Coronavirus update: From boat to jungle, Bengal self isolators find unique places during lockdown

While disturbing images of people violating orders for the lockdown to stop Covid-19 and thronging shops and markets continue to emerge in West Bengal, a handful of people have drawn attention by selecting unique places to live in isolation.

At Habibpur in Malda district, 65-year-old Niranjan Haldar was at a loss when he went to visit his niece on Tuesday. Her family would not let him in because of the lockdown and Haldar could not return home since there was no public transport.

Local people offered Haldar a rather unique home—a small country boat anchored by a lake.

“I am living in the boat since then. Though nobody allowed me to stay in their home the villagers helped me by offering the boat. They also give me food,” Haldar told a local television channel.

Three migrant labourers, who returned from Odisha’s Sundargarh to Dhantala in Nadia district, have not entered their homes.

Since Tuesday, the skilled carpenters are living inside a forest where they have set up a camp made out of tarpaulin and bamboo. The forest is not far from the village.

The men went to Sundargarh district a month and a half ago and decided to return when the coronavirus pandemic started. They rode their bicycles for a few kilometres and then hitchhiked on a cargo vehicle.

“They wanted to keep their families safe. They approached us and asked for a tarpaulin, some utensils and ration. They want to complete their 14-day mandatory isolation,” said Madhu Pal, a local villager.

In Purulia district, seven young migrant labourers who returned from Chennai on March 24 made news when they decided to live on a tree.

With no separate rooms in their homes to isolate themselves, they spent days and nights on a machan, wood and bamboo platform, that was already set up by residents of Bansgarh village to save themselves from wild elephants that often wander into human habitations in this region.

The administration came to know of this from local media reports and the men were taken to a government facility.

Non-government organisations engaged in distributing free ration are also telling people how crucial social distancing is at this juncture.

But rather than putting up posters, Pallimangal, a small NGO based in the Memari area of East Burdwan district, is distributing Ludo boards and dices so that people can play the board game and stay indoors.

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