Tired of the apathy shown by the Central Railways towards the spate of deaths at the Bhushi dam reservoir, the local police, with support from Lonavala residents, have decided to set up a control room and install CCTV cameras at eight locations and also arrange for patrolling by boats.
As many as five youth drowned in four seperate incidents this month. Between 2010 and 2014, 28 people – most of them youth – have either died of drowning in the dam reservoir or while climbing up the rocks at the waterfalls near the reservoir.
The Indian Express has reported that in spite of repeated communication from the local police to the Central Railway administration, which has jurisdiction over the dam, no life guard was deployed or any other measure taken. The Indian Express report had also revealed that the only two ‘life guards’ – who have been rescuing people and in cases fishing out bodies – are owners of stalls next to the dam.
Inspector I S Patil of the Lonavala police station said, “We were tired of repeatedly telling the Central Railway administration to deploy life guards and make safety arrangements. We have finally decided to do it on our own. Some residents from Lonavala have also come forward to support us financially.”
He added, “We plan to install CCTV cameras at eight locations and a public address system. There will be a control room from where our staffers will keep a watch on the situation and some will also be present at the location to respond. The waters will be patrolled by life guards and our people on two boats. A detailed plan has been chalked out and it will be funded by residents who have come forward. We hope that the Central Railways will at least give its nod to these measures taken by us,”
Despite repeated attempts, Narendra Patil, Chief PRO, Central Railway, could not be contacted.
“It has been observed that many youth consume alcohol on the premises. Most of the deaths occur when people enter waters to swim in spite of it being prohibited. In the deeper parts of the reservoir, even those who know how to swim become breathless and drown. There have also been cases in which tourists climb against the water flow at the water falls and small cascades and get seriously hurt due to slippery slopes, especially when there is a sudden rise in the volume of water. The CCTVs and public address system would curb these incidents, police said.