Kolkata – Bagna (Bangladesh border)
After years of calling on ports within the country, SEI decided to go a step further and organize an expedition to Bangladesh. Accordingly, the Institute planned a rowing and sailing expedition â€“ through the riverine Sunderbans, the largest mangrove in the world â€“ to Khulna in neighbouring Bangladesh in 2005. The objective was to study pollutants in the water at different spots of the river and the estuaries.
However, there was a disappointment in store for the eager seafarers. Administrative problems cropped up, they were denied visas and the destination had to be changed to Bagna on the Bangladesh border.
A team of eight young explorers, including one woman, under the leadership of Mr. Tapas Chowdhury, set out from Outram Ghat on 12th January, 2005. The craft was the much tested and tried, non-motorised â€˜Indiraâ€™. It was an expedition with a difference, for there was not only the lurking fear of the Tsunami that had wreaked havoc in the very recent past, but also multiple risks â€“ of the treacherous current of estuaries, of prowling Royal Bengal tigers, and of crocodiles and snakes that infest these waters.
The â€˜Indiraâ€™, steered only by sail and oars, reached Harwood Point and proceeded towards Namkhana after turning left from the river Muriganga and passing through the river Hatania-Doyania. Namkhana being the entry point to the Sunderbans, the sailors had to negotiate the boat past huge fishing trawlers as well as small fishing boats. After Namkhana, the going became increasingly tough as the crew battled reverse currents, choppy waters and a strong North Easterly wind. They anchored at several places like Ramganga, Ajmalmari, Herabhanga, Vidya and Pakhiralaya, before proceeding towards Bagna.
The boat reached Bagna at night and they had to anchor at mid-stream so as to be out of the way of hungry tigers.
The Bangladesh border could be seen a short distance away. The team had almost become participants in an international expedition.