Two days after as many as 14 students drowned at unregulated Murud beach of Raigad district, the state government has decided take steps to protect the lives of people visiting popular beaches.
Maharashtra has a coastline of 742.26 km, but not a single tourist spot on the beaches is manned by life guards or has any semblance of safety mechanism in place.
Praveen Pardeshi, principal secretary to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis told The Indian Express on Wednesday that the government was “very much” concerned about the safety of people visiting the beaches and that the latest incident has only added to the urgency for safety measures. “The death of 14 students on Murud beach once again highlights the immediate need to regulate our beaches,” he said.
Pardeshi conceded the beaches in the state were unregulated, posing risk to the life of tourists. “In the US, there is a policy in place for regulating beaches. The state government is also considering such a policy. The issue is being discussed at the highest level of the government and the Chief Minister may soon hold a meeting in this connection,” Pardeshi said.
Officials said a final announcement on regulating the beaches would be made in the next few days.
Pardeshi said that besides ensuring that each and every beach has proper boards warning tourists about the dangers of high tide and venturing too far in the sea, the government was also planning to train village youths in guiding and helping tourists visiting the beaches. “This will also help generate jobs for the local youths,” he said.
Calling it a step in the right direction, S A Inamdar, trustee of the MCE Society that runs the Abeda Inamdar College, said, “We have said earlier also that the drowning incident would not have occurred had there been proper warning boards and life guards in place. Though it is too late for us now, at least government should ensure that no other citizens dies at the sea beach,” he said.
Inamdar said the college was also now taking initiative to install boards on Murud beach to warn tourists of the dangers of venturing into the sea. “The boards will carrying warnings and the picture of students who died…,” he said.
Anjum Bakshi, who lost his two nieces in Monday’s tragedy, said, “At the funerals, the anger of the people was clearly directed at the inability or lack of thinking on the part of the government in ensuring safety of its citizens on seashores. The government should not waste any more time in putting in place safety mechansim on the beaches.”
Maharashtra has several popular beaches frequented by revellers almost throughout the year, especially on weekends and on public holidays. Beaches like Ganpatipule, Kashid, Murud Janjira, Tarkarli, Diveaghar, Shriwardhan and Kihim are among the most popular. Ganpatipule, Kashid and Murud Janjira are considered among the most dangerous beaches where drowning incidents during high tides are common.