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Prod to panel on Rabindra Sarobar petrol rescue boat

Nod from the committee to the use of petrol boats likely to lead to resumption of rowing in the lake

Debraj Mitra, Subhajoy Roy | Published 07.09.22, 09:53 AM
Rabindra Sarobar

Rabindra Sarobar

File picture

An ‘expert committee’ on Rabindra Sarobar will be urged to meet soon to decide whether petrol-powered rescue boats can be allowed in the lake, an official of the KMDA, the custodian of the water body, said on Tuesday.

The panel’s nod to the use of petrol boats is likely to lead to resumption of rowing in the lake, which has been suspended since the death of two teenage rowers in May.

“We will write to the chairperson of the committee, requesting him to convene a meeting. We want to ensure that rowing resumes soon,” said the official.

Kalyan Rudra, chairperson of the West Bengal Pollution Control Board, chairs the committee. It was constituted by the tribunal in the wake of a 2016 petition by environment activist Subhas Datta.

On Monday, the NGT rejected the KMDA’s application seeking permission to issue a “no-objection certificate” to the rowing clubs on the Rabindra Sarobar premises to operate rescue boats with petrol engines.

The bench said the tribunal had never barred the use of rescue boats in the lake. It added: “Whether petrol boats should be permitted, if they are environmentally compliant… is a matter to be decided exclusively by the KMDA along with the expert committee constituted by the tribunal”.

Rowing in the Sarobar has been suspended since two student rowers drowned in the lake on May 21 during a Nor’wester. No rescue boat was available at the time.

The clubs had attributed the absence to a ‘prohibition’ — imposed by the KMDA — on the use of petrol and diesel boats in the water body.

Officials of the rowing clubs said they were expecting a communication from the KMDA soon.

“We are finalising procurement of boats and other standard operating procedures. We are hopeful rowing in the lake will resume within seven to 10 days,” said an official of Lake Club.

Last updated on 07.09.22, 09:55 AM
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