Nehru Trophy Boat race to take place in Alappuzha today

The stage is set for the 66th edition of the Nehru Trophy Boat Race (NTBR) at the Punnamada lake in Alappuzha. Around 81 boats, including 25 snakeboats, will make a splash on Punnamada Lake today. The event is expected to give the much-needed impetus to the flood-ravaged backwater tourism sector.

The 66th edition of the race, slated to be held on August 11, was postponed due to flood. After the preliminary selection rounds, the final race will begin at 2.30 pm and end at 5.30 pm. Kerala Governor P Sathasivam will be the chief guest, and Union Minister for Tourism, Alphons Kannanthanam, the guest of honour. Actor Allu Arjun and Kerala Blasters team will also be present at the venue to cheer u the oarsmen.

The irrigation department have arranged special facilities for senior citizens and differently-abled people inside the rose pavilion of the NTPC and victory lane at the finishing point. The authorities have also made sure to arrange a special pathway and toilets and washrooms for the senior citizens and differently-abled.

For the first time, the transgender community is also taking part in the boat race. They will mark their presence at the food counters at the Alappuzha Gender Park near iron bridge.

This year, as part of the cost-cutting measures, the authorities have cancelled its free drinking water plan and has decided to charge a small token amount for the spectators to carry drinking water into the gallery, which will be reimbursed only if they carry back their plastic container back with them. There are also some 100 waste-collection bins, placed in every 30 metres in the gallery.

The story behind this water regatta getting its name dates back to the visit of Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in 1952. Nehru, accompanied by his daughter Indira and grandchildren Sanjay and Rajiv, was so excited watching the snakeboat race conducted impromptu for the visiting PM, and jumped into one of the snakeboats ignoring his security cover. After returning to Delhi, Nehru passed on a silver trophy, in the form of a snakeboat on a wood abacus as a gift for the memories of the time he spent there. Hence the race got named the Nehru Trophy Boat Race.