West Bengal, a state of India, is commonly known for fishing and agriculture. Here fish cultivation is done on a larger scale, compared to the other coastal states of India. The huge variety of fishes cultivated here opens the gate of export to foreign markets as well.
There are many places in West Bengal, where man made big canals and ponds are constructed and made compatible for harvesting and cultivating variety of fishes. The costs of establishment and maintenance of such water bodies are pretty high. This is a proprietorship business, often handled by a single authority, assisted by one chief assistant and a group of workers. These fish harvesting grounds are locally termed as “Bherri”.
The business faces stern obstacles due to storms, water pollution, excessive rainfall, labor management issues and scanty finance. In such cases loss becomes unavoidable and high. Some have the strength to fight these hindrances and continue for the next season while others pack up and set for other jobs.
The hardest part of this job is going into the dead cold water in the winter mornings. Even the strongest man may fall sick by the contact of such icy cold water. The risk is further increased by the chances of fatal snake bites. The only survival strategy in these situations is sharp vision and deep inner instincts. Being continuously in water also troubles the fishermen with skin diseases.
I have tried to document their activities during a wintry morning when working in the dense fog and chilling cold is a stark pain for any human being! I plan to go again to continue this project.