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Scuba diver plans to dive into Bay of Bengal
Scuba diver of Orissa, Sabir Bux, is going to explore the hidden details of the 133-year-old sunken French ship that was sunk in the Bay of Bengal near Hukitola. The French ship ‘Veleda’ is older than ‘Titanic’ but few people know about it.
THE INTERNATIONAL acclaimed scuba diver of Orissa, Sabir Bux, who had recorded a five-minute music album filmed by him under water in Mahanadi in Orissa to wish luck to the Indian cricket team for World Cup-2007, besides filming underwater video album celebrating India’s Independence Day in Saudi Arabia aired in the India Festival-2005, is going to explore the hidden facts of the 133-years-old sunken French ship, which was sunk in the Bay of Bengal near Hukitola, by diving into the sea.

To explore and study the mysterious details of the sunken ship, Sabir Bux is scheduled to visit Kendrapara on December 30. He holds a rescue diver card issued by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) of the UK, besides the professional license, certificate for open water, advance open water, underwater photography and videography, search and recovery and Medic First Aid.

The then collector of Cuttack, John Beames, who served as collector and district magistrate in Balesore from 1869 to 1873 and in Cuttack from 1875 to 1878, in his autobiography, ‘Memories of a Bengal Civilian’ has described about the sunken ship, which is of about 250-feet-long whereas its width is about 50 feet.

As per the description made by John Beames in his autobiography, the French cargo ship, ‘Veleda’ sunk in a cyclone, which occurred in the Bay of Bengal in the year 1875 near Hukitola about 35 km from Kendrapara coast. The ship, which was sunk, was carrying foodgrains, sugar, liquor, wine and other goods from Paris to India. Some crew members of the ship were also drowned due to the storm and their bodies were buried in a cemetery behind the lighthouse.

During the long history of shipping worldwide, most of the countries have lost hundreds of ships and the sea has devoured several ports due to erosion and wrath of nature. According to Bux, the ships and the ports, which have succumbed to the sea, give a vivid picture of history of trade in the past. Each and every sunken ship and port is a treasure trove for the researchers for which the ships and the ports which have found their watery grave should be preserved for posterity through systematic excavation.

According to Bux, the ship which was sunk about 133-years ago should be preserved under the project of Unesco’s ‘Underwater Cultural Heritage’. As Unesco, under its project ‘Underwater Cultural Heritage’ seeks to protect sunken ships which have been lost, jettisoned or abandoned, and are at the bottom of the sea for at least 100 years

The marine records of the National Archives, Delhi and other records in many museums and libraries furnish valuable information on ship lost in storms and naval battles during the 16th- 19th, century. But some of the ships, which were lost, had not been recorded at all, informed Satyaranjan Sahu, the scientist of National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Goa.

French ship ‘Veleda’ is older than ‘Titanic’. The ‘Titanic’ was built in 1912 in UK and sunk on 14th, April 1912 carrying 2200 passengers, in the most infamous marine disaster. After 73 years a joint US-French team located and photographed the wreckage of ‘Titanic’ in 1985. But few people know about this sunken ship which can also attract many tourists, if it is conserved for posterity, claimed Bux.

Sabir Bux said that in order to get more information of a sunken ship of Second World War period and to find more details he dived into the sea near Chatrapur of Ganjam district atleast three times in recent past. “Recently I dived on the sea on December 12-16th month to get more information of the sunken ship at Chatrapur”, he said. “I have done underwater surface photography of SYNCROLIFT at Yanbo seaport, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and have been involved in various activities to clean up the Red Sea reefs. I have also conducted underwater photography of Chilika Lake in Orissa for its database, celebrated a birthday underwater in Red Sea off the northern coast of Jeddah, participated in the Aquatic World Awareness, Responsibility and Education (AWARE) programme, and also performed at the Melodic Meet ’98, organised by the Bahrain Disabled Sports Committee, in association with Kerala Arts & Cultural Association (KACA) at Al Andalus Garden”, added Bux.

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