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Bula's plans to swim Palk Straits hit a hurdle

NEW DELHI OCT. 6. Former National swimming champion Bula Choudhury aims to swim across the Palk Straits to complete her journey through the seven seas.

There is a hitch though. The mandatory permission from the Union ministries of external affairs, defence and home, is not forthcoming.

"I have applied to the three ministries about a month ago but so far there is no response from them,'' said Bula, who is here to pursue her case.

Bula has already been granted permission by the Sri Lankan government, which has promised all help during her swim till she would be in the Lankan waters.

"I had been pursuing with the Lankan government for a while and their permission came this June. Then I applied to the ministries here,'' she said.

Bula plans to swim the Palk Straits between Talai Malai in Sri Lanka and Dhanuskoti (Rameshwaram) in India. This would be the seventh big channel she would be swimming through.

First she swam the English Channel in 1989 and repeated it in 1999 to become the first Asian woman to swim the channel twice. Then she went on a long-distance swimming binge so to say. Strait of Gibraltar in 2000, Tiranian Sea in Italy (2001), Great Toroneos Gulf in Greece (2002), Catalina Channel in the U.S. (2002) and Cooks Straits in New Zealand (2003) were her subsequent adventures.

She completed the swim through the Strait of Gibraltar in Spain in a world record time at 3 hours and 35 minutes.

The permission from both the governments is extremely important as she would need security and rescue boats to follow throughout her trail.

Besides the threat of LTTE while in the Lankan waters, the Palk Straits has a unique marine ecology, which includes sharks and venomous sea snakes.

"I would need to have shark repellents in place which requires a lot of money,'' Bula said. The swimmer said she would scout for a sponsor only after getting the required permission from the government.

"If all goes well, I would like to swim the Palk Straits sometime in February or March next year because this time of the year the sea is turbulent,'' she added. — Our Sports Reporter

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