Rowing prospects mired in Sukhna’s silt and weedsJuly 18th, 2010 - 4:31 pm ICT by IANS
By Alkesh Sharma
Chandigarh, July 18 (IANS) It has churned out rowers of international repute. But the landmark Sukhna Lake here is being choked by hundreds of tonnes of silt and weeds, making it unfit for rowing as well as hosting tournaments.
“There was a time when we boasted of an international standard rowing course but with the increase in the level of silt, weeds and shrinking size of the Sukhna Lake, this sport has suffered a major setback,” Parmod Kumar Singla, joint secretary of the Rowing Federation of India (RFI), told IANS.
“We need at least two to three metres depth for rowing but at Sukhna it is hardly a few inches. Our motor boats, which are used for giving instructions and rescue operations, cannot run. Besides rowing boats, the oars of other boats also get entangled in weeds,” said Singla.
Sukhna Lake has hosted three Asian championships and six national tournaments. In 2009 RFI allotted three national tournaments to Sukhna Lake, but they could not be held because of poor conditions.
“It was really embarrassing for us as we had to surrender three national tournaments last year because of less water and excessive weeds and silt in the lake,” said Singla, honorary secretary of the Chandigarh Rowing Association.
“The Chandigarh administration is least bothered about the lake’s degeneration and it has remained a mute spectator to the slow death of water sports,” he said.
Rowing players and water sports enthusiasts from Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh use the two-kilometre watercourse at Sukhna for practice. The lake has produced scores of national- and international-level rowers till date.
The lake has produced rowers like Gurpreet Kaur, Manjeet Singh and Gurnoor Kaur who have participated in international events, incluing the Asian Games.
“I have been practising here for the last eight years and conditions have deteriorated with each passing year. Due to the shrinking size of the lake we are left with a course of only three lanes whereas an international standard course is of 8-12 lanes,” Aansh Vashisht, a national level rowing player from Chandigarh, told IANS.
“Due to all this, many of my contemporaries have already left this sport. It is high time that the administration took action for de-silting the lake and for removing the weeds,” said Vashisht.
A senior official of the Punjab Rowing Association, on the condition of anonymity, told IANS: “Threat is looming over the future of both Sukhna Lake and rowing. Many of our players have stopped coming here for practice and now they are forced to go to far-off places for practice that is affecting their performance.”
“These are Brazilian weeds, commonly known as musk grass. During the last two years we have seen a manifold increase in their growth. Besides posing problems during the practice, these are hazardous for health, especially the skin,” he said.
As per official figures, Sukhna lake’s water-bearing capacity has been reduced to half its original capacity.
The manmade lake, which is popular among tourists, boating enthusiasts and morning and evening walkers, has a water-bearing capacity of about 513 hectare metres against the original capacity of over 1,074 hectare metres in the late 1950s when it was built.
It has faced unchecked siltation for over three decades from its catchment area. Efforts to de-silt the lake in the next two decades, including voluntary service, have failed to yield any substantive results.
(Alkesh Sharma can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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Tags: asian championships, asian games, chandigarh administration, haryana, honorary secretary, international repute, kaur, kilometre, major setback, motor boats, oars, rescue operations, rfi, rowing association, rowing boats, silt, slow death, water sports enthusiasts, watercourse, weeds