Puri: Frequent drowning cases in the coastal sea here have become a matter of concern.
Many intellectuals and social activists have urged the Tourism department and the district administration to look into the issue at the earliest and take appropriate action.
Puri, the abode of Lord Jagannath, usually attracts devotees and tourists from across the globe. Most of the tourists usually congregate on the city beach to spend some quality time.
However, quite a few tourists have lost their lives while bathing in the coastal sea here. As per data, at least 160 tourists have drowned in the sea in the Holy City in last 10 years. Apart from that, many sea bathers have sustained injuries due to high altitude waves on the city coast.
Very recently, two tourists have lost their lives while bathing in the sea.
The state government has deployed altogether 100 lifeguards for the safety of sea bathers on a 2 km patch of the beach. However, it is yet to deploy lifeguards in the remaining 6 km of the city beach.
Earlier, the Odisha police was handling the lifeguards. But, the Fire Brigade department has been managing the lifeguards since October 2, 2013.
However, the state government is yet to provide proper equipment to the lifeguards. “We have not been provided with rescue tubes and other advanced equipment. Moreover, we do not have any mechanism to warn tourists of turbulent sea,” said a lifeguard on conditions of anonymity.
It is learnt that many tourists often take bath in the unprotected area of the beach. Moreover, many of them entered into deep sea without any safety gears.
According to sources, the district administration had urged the state government to deploy additional 100 lifeguards on the beach to ensure safety of sea bathers. However, the government is yet to take any decision on the issue.
“The state government should deploy lifeguards on the unprotected area of the beach. It can recruit a few youths from the local fisherman community as lifeguards. Besides, the lifeguards must be provided with advanced equipment,” said social activist Chandrasekhar Mishra.
A few social activists have urged the district administration to put up warning signage on the beach to prevent unsafe bathing. “The hoteliers should put up warning signage on their premises. They can recruit one lifeguard each to ensure safety for tourists. The district administration should repair the watch towers on the beach,” said Bipin Mohanty, another social activist.
District tourism officer Bijay Kumar Jena said they have imparted training on lifesaving techniques to lifeguards. “Signage have been installed to make tourists aware of safe bathing zones. We have been asking tourists not to enter into the deep sea,” Jena added.