Cyclone Nisarga: A stormy time gallops closer

Updated: Jun 03, 2020, 07:43 IST | Hemal Ashar | Mumbai

As Mumbai braces for cyclone Nisarga, a look at how Kolkata's racecourse is healing after being battered by cyclone Amphan

Recently, the member base of the Royal Calcutta Turf Club (RCTC) received a communication from club chairman Sudipto Sarkar requesting generosity of all stakeholders in the reconstruction of the Club's infrastructure, which has been damaged in cyclone Amphan.

Sarkar's crisp communication begins with, "There are times when Murphy's Law takes effect and all that can go wrong does go wrong. With the country battling the global pandemic and the future of racing under great threat, cyclone Amphan hit Kolkata. This convergence of catastrophes has had disastrous effects on the Club's resources."

Damage done
Another excerpt from his letter says, "I am writing primarily to inform you about the immense damage suffered by our Club. Our boundary walls and fencing, stables at Bakery Road and Race Course, Bookmakers Ring, Commentators Box, Judges Box, Governors Box, Stewards Box, big screen, audio equipment, innumerable TV sets, sheds, gates, pillars and window panes have all been extensively damaged, some beyond repair requiring replacement."

Divine providence
It ends with an appeal for voluntary monetary help in the rebuilding effort. Cyrus Madan, on the Board of Stewards of RCTC said, "The club infrastructure has been damaged heavily. It was divine providence that human beings and 408 horses in the stables were unscathed." Madan further explained, "We lost 47 beautiful, big, old trees that broke in the eye of this cyclone. These are times when the sport is completely devastated. Our Kolkata racing season, which runs from July to March with a short break in between, is now like most things, mired in uncertainty. Even with cyclone Amphan, we would have been good to go from July, but the pandemic has changed that. Racing has been affected all over the world. Some centres are opening behind closed doors, because of online betting. We are still talking to the government with reference to online betting here."

In Mumbai
Sarkar said that the help coming in is totally voluntary and a, "lot of work still has to be done at the racecourse. There has been considerable damage."

In Mumbai, "our television sets at the Mahalaxmi race course have been removed and stored away," said Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) chairman Zavaray Poonawalla. "The Mahalaxmi racecourse also has many old, massive trees, we have tried to be as prepared as possible and safe as we brace for cyclone Nisarga," he finished.

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