KOLKATA, 27 JUNE: A project on disaster management training and revival of traditional water sport of Bengal at the Tarini Majhi Ghat in Salt Lake Stadium died a slow death due to the previous Left Front government’s apathy.
Costly sports equipment and boats now lie in ruins in the compound of the ghat. While the rotten boats could be seen floating in the water body, goons have made the picturesque ghat their den. With only two men on guard, the wood of the boats and also from the room, used as an office, at the ghat are stolen every now and then by goons who have an easy access there.
A registered society founded in 1995 by Mr Upen Biswas, former CBI joint director and now minister for backward class welfare, Bengal Traditional Sports Foundation, was given a water body inside the stadium premises on 99-year lease by the then sports minister Subhas Chakraborty. The lease was subject to yearly renewal on payment of Rs 16,500 per annum.
Initially, 16 row boats each worth Rs 1,60,000 and water sport equipment and gadgets were brought by the funds, part of which was given by Mr Samar Nag, managing director of Bengal Shelter, authorities of Coal India and other trustees of the foundation.
However, after the death of Subhas Chakraborty in August 2009, the yearly amount for renewal of lease was refused by the state government. In a span of six months, the project withered and the water body now lies unused with hooligans taking shelter there.
A member of the foundation said that since the project was conceived by Mr Upen Biswas, who had been protesting against the state government’s much-hyped Rajarhat-Newtown township, the sports minister after Subhas Chakraborty’s death, Mr Kanti Ganguly, on instructions from the party, refused to renew the lease.
It may be noted that the foundation had been running disaster management training in the ghat and at the time of cyclone and floods in 1996 and 2001, supplied rescue team and boats to some of the affected districts.
The boatmen from Bagdah in North 24 Parganas, also the constituency of the Mr Biswas, were brought to the Tarini Majhi Ghat for resurrecting the tradition water sport like ‘Baich’.
The treasurer of the foundation, Mr Sujit Haldar, said that they would soon have a meeting with other members to decide the fate of the ghat which they are unable to maintain due to shortage of funds. Mr Madan Mitra, sports minister, said that he would have a meeting with Mr Upen Biswas to see whether the project could be revived. “If not, then we would utilise the space for some other sports training,” he added.