Pointing out that several people had drowned off beaches as a result of the government not complying with its own resolution pertaining to beach security, the Bombay High Court Tuesday asked the state to file an undertaking stating it would ensure compliance.
The resolution was issued by the government on September 8, 2006.
“According to the resolution, numerous measures had to be taken, which included appointing lifeguards as per requirement and putting up safety nets on beaches frequented by visitors. But till date, the government has not ascertained how many lifeguards are required per beach. Beaches which require safety nets have also not been identified,” said Justice A S Oka.
The chief secretary had held a meeting on March 3, 2016, for implementation of the resolution and had directed that safety measures such as lifeguard, watchtowers, lifeboats, life jackets etc be implemented within three months. While the period has expired, nothing has been done by the state to ensure safety of tourists on beaches. The state sought a further extension of three months on Tuesday.
“Considering the gross default of the state, it will have to give an undertaking that full compliance will be made in three months, otherwise we cannot grant further extension,” added the court.
The direction was given by a bench headed by Justice Abhay Oka, which was hearing a public interest litigation filed by Janhit Manch, an NGO, on the issue of beach safety in the wake of the incident off Murud Janjira beach near Alibaug, in which 14 students, ten of them girls, drowned earlier this year.
While one of the lawyers pointed out that only 62 lifeguards had been appointed in 45 beaches, while Goa had managed to hire 600, the
acting advocate general Rohit Deo said Maharashtra’s case could not be compared to Goa which had “outsourced safety.”
Deo also pointed to a case where people drowned due to their own fault despite the lifeguard on the beach asking them to move away.
The court pointed out, “Even if people died due to their own fault, state’s obligation cannot be forgotten.”