Man swims across river daily to open his shop in WB

Coronavirus Lockdown: Man swims across river daily to open his shop in West Bengal's Santipur

Representative image. (Credit: AFP Photo)

Desperate times call for desperate measures. This is exactly what a gold jewellery shop owner from West Bengal’s East Bardhaman district has done.  A resident of the Kalna town in the district Sanjoy Pal has been swimming across the mighty Hooghly river ( a distributary of the Ganges) every day to open his small shop in Nadia district’s Santipur across the river.

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Pal was struggling to sustain his family of five ever since the lockdown to contain COVID-19 started as shops, such as his, selling non-essential commodities were not allowed to open. As days passed his savings started to run out. When he came to know that under the relaxations provided in the third phase of the lockdown, shops such as his will be allowed to open he became desperate.

Soon after the announcement, he rushed to the local ferry ghat thinking that he could resume his business. But his hopes were dashed as apart from carrying essential commodities the ferry service was closed due to the lockdown.

However, giving up was not an option for him. First, he decided to build a raft from stems of banana trees to cross the river. But later changed his mind as he thought it would be too risky.

Then he arranged a swimming tube, packed a separate set of clothes and keys to his shop in a plastic bag and started swimming across the river every day to open his shop.

“Ever since the third phase of the lockdown, I set out from my home at around 10 am and swim across the river to open my shop in Santipur and return home in the evening,” said Pal.

Although locals praised his “courage and determination” they said that that it was a “risky affair” to swim across the river in such a manner.

Speaking to DH, Pal said that on Monday morning he got a call from the local Sub Divisional Officer.  "He told me that the way he was swimming across the river everyday was risky and said that I should go by the cargo boat instead," said Pal. 

He also said that the boat fare of Rs. 50 will be reimbursed by the district administration.