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Rabindra Sarobar rowing clubs talk of life savers

Rowing SOP likely at Lalbazar meeting with police commissioner on Thursday

Debraj Mitra | Published 25.05.22, 07:51 AM
The Lake Club.

The Lake Club.

File picture

Officials of the three rowing clubs around the Rabindra Sarobar in south Kolkata met on Tuesday evening and discussed deployment of a dedicated cadre of life savers and faster boats to rescue rowers during an emergency.

The meeting took place some 72 hours after two teenage rowers drowned in the lake during a fierce storm on Saturday evening that had toppled several boats.


The meeting was aimed at preparing a set of safety protocols to avert a repeat of Saturday’s tragedy, said someone who attended the meeting.

Club officials were tight-lipped on what happened at the meeting, convened by the Bengal Rowing Association and held at the Calcutta Rowing Club.

The final set of SOP will be decided at a meeting on Thursday at Lalbazar, said sources at the clubs.

That day, the Kolkata police commissioner is likely to meet the representatives of the clubs and the rowing association, the sources said.

Club sources said rowing would not resume at Sarobar at least till Thursday’s meeting.

Officials of the Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority, custodian of the 192-acre Rabindra Sarobar complex, will be present at the meeting.

“Nothing was finalised today (Tuesday). We can comment only after the meeting with the police on Thursday. We have been informed by mayor Firhad Hakim and also Rabindra Sarobar police station about the meeting on Thursday,” said Chandan Roy Chowdhury, secretary, Calcutta Rowing Club.

Tuesday’s meeting started with a minute’s silence in memory of the two deceased rowers, Souradeep Chatterjee and Pushan Sadhukhan.

Multiple officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that the use of speedboats and life savers were the main issues discussed at the meeting.

“There was a proposal to have a dedicated cadre of life savers. If needed, the three clubs can come together to hire them from an external agency,” said a member of one of the clubs.

The three clubs — CRC, Lake Club and Bengal Rowing Club — have so far used majhis as life savers. During rowing tournaments, they used to deploy speedboats from the army or police. The boats would come with a team of life savers.

But on Tuesday, more than one participant stressed the need to have life savers even during practice sessions. Saturday’s tragedy happened during a practice session.

“Saturday’s storm has shown that accidents can happen any time. We cannot afford to take any more risks," said a participant at the meeting.

“It was a sombre occasion. We are yet to come out of the deep sense of loss. Today, we just discussed the ways to prevent a repeat of such a tragedy. But any final protocol will come out only after Thursday’s meeting with the police,” said Debabrata Datta, joint-secretary of the Lake Club.

Souradeep and Pushan, along with two fellow rowers and a cox, were on a rowing boat of the Lake Club when the storm struck.

A former rower and a member of one of the clubs, who was at the meeting on Tuesday, said the issue of speedboats was also discussed in detail.

The use of diesel-run motorised speedboats had to be stopped following an order from the National Green Tribunal and a notice from the KMDA.

Several club officials have cited the order as the reason behind the delayed rescue bid on Saturday. The boat was out of the water and had its motors detached when the storm struck, they said.

The KMDA had prodded the clubs to look for environment-friendly battery-operated speedboats.

At the meeting on Tuesday, some club officials stressed the need to look for manufacturers of such boats.

Last updated on 25.05.22, 07:51 AM

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