: ‘Sreeganeshan chundan’, of Freedom Boat Club, Kainakari, emerged winner in the 60th edition of the Nehru Trophy Boat Race at the Punnamada lake on Saturday.
`Sreeganeshan,' captained by Jiji Jacob Pollayil, clocked 4.48 minutes to reach the finishing point. The snake boat was ahead of ‘Anari’, rowed by Kollam Jesus Boat Club, which finished second, by a distance of one ‘chundan (approximately 100 ft). The third place was shared by ‘Muttel Kainakary’ of United Boat Club, Kainakary, and ‘Cheruthana' of Kumarakom Boat Club.
Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar presented the trophy to Josie Kavalam, leading captain of ‘Sreeganeshan’.
Earlier, Ms. Meira Kumar, in her inaugural address, said boat races created a bond of oneness among the people. “They (boat races) were a unique symbol of communal harmony, amity, peaceful co-existence and brotherhood. The NTBR (Nehru Trophy Boat Race) was a shining example of unity in diversity,” she observed.
The Speaker described the event as “Kuttanad Olympics on water.” She was all praise for the universal literacy rate and gender ratio that the State had achieved. She commended the people of the State for preserving their tradition of boat racing. Ms. Meira Kumar said the State occupied a special place in her heart.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy unveiled the statue of Jawaharlal Nehru at the specially constructed Nehru Pavilion on the Punnamada lake on Saturday.
Union Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi; Union Minister of State for Power K.C. Venugopal; Speaker of the Kerala Legislative Assembly G. Karthikeyan; Home Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan; Finance Minister K.M. Mani; Tourism Minister A.P. Anilkumar; and Rural Development Minister K.C. Joseph; attended. Around 1,500 rowers representing 20 snake boats and a few other small boats took part in the mass drill that saluted the chief guest of the day. ‘Payippadan' of the Payippadu Boat Club won the prize for the best performance in the mass drill.
Shaji, president of the Freedom Club which won the trophy, said they were confident of winning the trophy. “Unity among our rowers helped us win the first prize,” he said.