The Bombay High Court Tuesday asked the state to explain what arrangements have been made to secure beaches during the Ganesh festival.
The court was hearing a matter on beach security when an intervener’s advocate, M P Rao, stated that many immersions took place in Mumbai during Ganeshotsav, especially at Girgaum and Juhu and the government should ensure safety of people. “There were reports of deaths in June and August due to lack of security,” said Rao.
“If the government resolution specifying steps to ensure beach security would have been implemented, these deaths would not have taken place,” said the High Court. The resolution was issued by the government on September 8, 2006. It specified numerous measures, including appointing lifeguards and putting up safety nets on beaches.
The chief secretary had also held a meeting on March 3 for implementation of the resolution, and had directed that lifeguards, watchtowers, lifeboats, life jackets etc be brought in within three months. While the period has expired, the measures are yet to be implemented. The state would file its reply on Thursday, adding it was taking all steps for the festive season, including deploying homeguards.
The direction was given by a bench headed by Justice Abhay Oka, which was hearing a PIL by NGO Janhit Manch filed after the Murud Janjira tragedy, in which 14 students drowned this year.
During the last hearing, the court had directed the state to file an undertaking that it would implement the resolution by a specified date. In the affidavit filed on Tuesday, however, the government submitted certain recommendations by the Indian Institute of Scuba Diving and Aquatic Sports, which basically relax parts of the resolution.
The court questioned if this wasn’t overreaching the court’s order and asked the state to withdraw the affidavit. The recommendations by the institute state that nets along swimming areas are not suitable for Indian conditions, as they are used by other countries for shark attacks. It also states that watch towers are not required on beaches.