At least 65 rowers from West Bengal who aspire to participate in the national rowing championships may have to travel more than 400km to Odisha’s Jagatpur for their practice and trials because Rabindra Sarobar is closed to rowers.
These rowers are getting ready for an event scheduled later this month in Srinagar’s Dal Lake.
The Sub-Junior National Rowing Championships for Under-15 rowers and Inter-State Challenger National Rowing Championships, an open tournament, are scheduled at Dal Lake between June 20 and 26.
Sources in the West Bengal Rowing Association said they have received the consent of the guardians of 65 rowers who wish to participate at the national level.
Officials of the association said they would be able to confirm the trip only after checking whether the Water Sports Complex of the Sports Authority of India in Odisha’s Jagatpur — where the trials could be held — has all the safety arrangements in accordance with the guidelines of the Rowing Federation of India.
“We have received the consent of the guardians but we will take the rowers to Jagatpur only after receiving a written clearance from the Kolkata chapter of the Sports Authority of India about the safety checks at the Jagatpur venue. We are in touch with them,” said Anirudhha Mookerjee, secretary, West Bengal Rowing Association.
The death by drowning of two teenage rowers at Rabindra Sarobar during a fierce storm on May 21 has resulted in the suspension of all rowing-related activities in the lake, forcing the clubs and the rowing association to contemplate alternative venues for practice and selection before the national championships.
The officials said they have added a layer of security by apprising the guardians of the possible risks involved in the sport.
“Generally, the participants are asked to mention in a written undertaking whether they know swimming and their guardians have to countersign the undertaking. But as the national level championship is scheduled at Srinagar and in the wake of recent incidents of violence there, we have informed the guardians in detail about the possible threats and asked them to give their consent only after weighing all options,” said an official of one of three clubs functioning from the Rabindra Sarobar complex.
The official said many who are older than 18 were objecting to bringing an undertaking from their guardians. “But we explained to them that the consent of the guardians was mandatory even if the participant is an adult,” he said.
The family of one of the two rowers who died at the lake on May 21 has lodged a police complaint alleging negligence of the Lake Club, whose boats and equipment the boys were using, and their school, which they were representing at a competition.