Lockdown impact: No boat services compel Bengal man to swim across Hoogly river daily to reach work

Pal, an employee at a jewellery shop in Nadia district, had been swimming against the tide for the past 20 days to keep his family of five afloat.

Published: 19th May 2020 07:57 PM  |   Last Updated: 19th May 2020 07:57 PM   |  A+A-

Representational image of Hoogly river (Photo | AP)


KOLKATA: "God save me from drowning," prays 28-year-old Sanjay Pal as he swims his way to his workplace across the river every morning in the absence of boat service amid the coronavirus-triggered lockdown.

Pal, an employee at a jewellery shop in Nadia district, had been swimming against the tide for the past 20 days to keep his family of five afloat.

"I am not a good swimmer but there isn't another option. I have a family of five, including my bedridden parents, to feed, and I am the sole breadwinner.

"I swim across the Hooghly river for two hours to and fro my place of work," Pal told PTI over phone from his hometown in West Burdwan.

Each morning, after having a hurried breakfast, the 28-year-old goes to the river ghat, where he changes into his swimming trunks, puts his workplace wear inside a polythene bag and ties it around his waist before taking a plunge.

"After reaching the destination, I dry myself, put on my clothes and walk to the shop.

After reaching there, I get my trunks dried, so that I can use it again when I return home at 4 pm," he said.

Pal, who earns Rs 10,000 per month, didn't get a single penny from his shop owner for the days he did not turn up at work since the imposition of the lockdown.

My shop owner said I wouldn't get paid if I don't report for work.

Before the lockdown, I used to avail the boat service to reach Nadia, but now services have been suspended.

So I have no other way out, but to swim," he said.

Initially, Pal had made a raft by tying together banana tree barks, but that drifted apart owing to strong currents during high tide.

"So I had to resort to swimming. I am not a skilled swimmer, but I somehow manage," Pal added.

Local TMC-run panchayat, on being informed about Pal's ordeal, said it would look into the matter.

"We were not aware of this. We will look into it and see if he could use the ferry services meant to carry essential goods," a TMC leader said.

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