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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Clarify beach safety measures in city: HC PIL Filed After 10 Drownings In One Month

Mumbai: With as many as 10 deaths due to drowning in the last one month, the Bombay high court on Thursday directed the BMC to place on record the safety measures at beaches in the city. Hearing a public interest litigation filed by Janhit Manch, a division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Nitin Jamdar suggested to the BMC to check out the Goa beach safety plan. The corporation has four weeks time to file its affidavit. 
    Advocate Jamshed Mitsry, counsel for the petitioner, told the court that six years after the high court had okayed a beach safety plan that included trained lifeguards equipped with rescue gadgets, watch towers on beaches and safety nets in the sea, the project was yet to fully take off. "The beach safety measures are utterly lacking in the city which has made it dangerous for citizens to venture out (into the sea)," said Mistry. The advo
cate also pointed out to the BMC affidavit which had blamed the lack of funding from the state government for its failure to implement measures like watch towers and safety nets in the sea. 
    The BMC, however, refuted the charges. "There are six lifeguards on the main beaches," said advocate Birendra Saraf, counsel for the BMC. "On weekends and holidays, additional staff, including one officer and four
lifeguards from the fire brigade are deployed on the beaches," added the advocate, who said that revellers on the beach were as much to blame for the drowning deaths. "Every drowning death cannot be blamed on the government's apathy. There are many incidents when despite the lifeguard warning them against going into the sea, people have ventured in. There have been many cases of drunken drowning. These are people who do not accept discipline." 
    Saraf also said that many of the deaths had occurred not on the beaches but near creeks and even the Gateway of India when the waves swept away passers-by. 
    The court also heard the views of an expert from Goa, which had implemented a beach safety plan with over 525 lifeguards. This measure has brought down the drowning deaths from around 200 to just 7-8. Advocate Saraf, however, said that the Goa plan may not work in Mumbai. 


• 10 persons have died due to drowning on the city's coast in June 

• 4,920 persons have drowned off waterfronts in Maharashtra in 2011 

• 13 drowning deaths every day in the state 

• 228 persons drowned in Mumbai in 2011 

• 35 life guards are deployed on the six main beaches in Mumbai


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