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Monday, July 2, 2012

Another drowning, this time at Gateway

City Gets High Tide & Heavy Rain Warning For Tuesday

    Planning to take a dip in the sea? Give it a second thought. An unidentified man drowned at the Gateway of India on Monday, a day after three youths drowned at Juhu beach. The death, which brings the drowning toll to 10 in a month, comes amid hightide warnings. 
    The BMC's fire brigade and disaster control cell have already activated emergency support functions following 

warnings from the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) of a high tide of 4.66m at 12.05 pm along with heavy rainfall on Tuesday. 
    The unidentified person who drowned at the Gateway was brought out by firemen with the help of a rope manila but was declared dead on admission at St George Hospital. 
    Three youngsters drowned at Juhu beach on Sunday afternoon. While the police traced the body of Aniket Gawane (17) and Zuber Shaikh (15) on Sunday, 17-year-old Sayyad Ali's 
body was recovered on Monday morning at 8am by BMC lifeguards and navy divers. 
    In the last one month, the maximum drowning deaths were reported at Silver beach, which is 3 km away from Juhu beach. "We are conducting a review to declare certain spots dangerous. But we cannot declare entire beaches as dangerous. The Silver beach end has certain anti-social elements and has also witnessed several cases of drowning. We will reinforce that spot, which is 3 km away from our checkpoint, with more lifeguards after we receive the required sanctions. People ignore warnings made through announcements, boards, red flags. We are not an enforcing agency. Enforcement of law should be done by the police," said Suhas Joshi, chief fire officer, fire briagde. 
    P S Rahangdale, deputy chief fire officer said the problem is aggravated as several youths go for a swim after drinking alcohol. "Our lifeguards are manhandled. In Gorai and Aksa beaches, there is intervention from local residents who resolve disputes between lifeguards and youngsters. But we require a strong police presence during high tides," he said. Rahangdale said after receiving the high tide alert for Tuesday, the fire brigade will put several measures in place. "We are putting additional resources on beaches, senior station officers, flood rescue team personnel (FRT), four firemen and reinforcing guards. FRT personnel will be deployed at flooding spots." 
    Following a spate of drowning incidents since December 2007, the municipal commissioner had set aside Rs 2.1 crore to purchase safety equipment like rescue boats and jet skis with trolleys, build lifeguard-watch towers. But the only beach safety equipment on all beaches comprise rescue tubes, life jackets, ring buoys and kayaks. "We are still in the process of buying watch towers, jet skis and dedicated beach safety equipment. We will also increase our trained manpower," said a senior fire official. 

Times View 
The frequent casualties on Mumbai's beaches are a shame, especially as these beaches are among the city's biggest tourist attractions and give crammed-for-space Mumbaikars that rare feeling of expanse. The agencies responsible for ensuring visitors' safety seem to have gone into a slumber after the assurances they gave to the judiciary. This is not to condone visitors' irresponsible behaviour. But the measures that need to be in place seem to be absent or not working, especially at Juhu, Mumbai's favourite seaside getaway. 
It's a 5km beach, we alert and warn people about high tides. Youngsters are always in groups and they come to attack us. We don't have support from the police. We can't be stationed at one spot. The moment we leave, they return 
    Manohar Shetty (44) | 
Youths often drink and venture into the deep seas during rains. This is the main reason for the increase in cases of drowning. We display boards mentioning the high tide dates and timings. Lifeguards whistle and warn people. Yet, their warnings fall on deaf ears. What can lifeguards do in such situations if youngsters choose to risk their lives 
    Mahesh Narvekar | 
We will deploy some more lifeguards at Silver beach, which is 3 km away from Juhu beach. We appeal to the parents, schools and colleges to spread awareness to prevent children from venturing into the sea during monsoon, especially on high tide days 
    Suhas Joshi | 


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