The beautiful sea side at Rushikonda has laid claim to two more innocent lives this weekend. The deceased have been identified as Rahul Pandit and Noval Upadya, who are residents of Hyderabad and working with Karachi Bakery near Diamond Park. The deceased had come as a group of 6 friends for dip and frolic in the waters. The tragedy struck when the two deceased were pulled in by the waves before help could reach them. The beach visitors raised alarm and the life guards made every effort for rescue but while 2 of the friends could be rescued, Rahul Pandit and Noval Upadya could not be. Their bodies were recovered later.
It’s not a stray incident, the recent deaths. It is an oft repeated occurrence and the statistics are grim on the terrible affair of deaths by drowning on the Beach. Lot has been done and there is a scope for lot more to be done for avoiding this catastrophe. A lot of causalities have been due to casual attitude of the visitors and there cannot be enough warnings. It remains to be seen how soon can we decrease the death toll on our beautiful coastline. News dailies have diligently raised awareness and reported statistics and the numbers from 2015 onward till date have been quoted. Haste is necessary and the past paid due regard.
Let us look at the extracts from articles in various National dailies over the years regarding the deaths along Vizag Coastline.
Visakhapatnam, July 14, 2015, Deccan Chronicle: The deaths due to drowning in beaches in the state came to fore again after three students of DAV Public School, Steel Plant township area in Vizag drowned in Appikonda while swimming in the waters on July 6. The rip current, which is the main reason for drowning deaths, is not constant and normally generates during high tide and operates within a radius of 50 feet to 50 yards and the speed or power of suction could range from 5 to 8 kmph said the former head of Department of Oceanography, Andhra University, Prof OSRU Bhanu Kumar.(july 17, 2017, the hindu). Beaches in and around Visakhapatnam such as the RK Beach, Yarada, Rushikonda and Jodugullapalem have been the main attraction for both locals and tourists. However, in the last three years, the beaches recorded over 120 drowning deaths.
Visakhapatnam, Oct 16, 2016, Hans India: Death of five people including three students in May midweek this year stirred the State government, and HRD Minister Ganta Srinivasa Rao immediately convened a meeting of marine police, coast guard and Navy and it was decided to launch a project worth Rs 2.5 crore in the first phase for building watch towers fitted with public address system, CCTVs so that the persons watching would alert the people on the dangers of swimming in the sea. It was also planned to acquire few All Terrain Vehicles as part of the project which can move on the beach from one end to the other warning people on the shore. Rip boats and inflated high speed boats with life saving equipment were also suggested for prowling in the waters to save people from drowning.The Minister suggested bill boards with warnings inscribed in Teulgu, Odiya, Hindi and English would be set up all along the beach. Former IG of Marine Police K Surya Rao then said he would suggest the government to install floating walls with nets at R K Beach and Rushikonda to prevent drowning and dragging into deep waters by the rip currents. Five months have elapsed and not an inch had moved. People continue to drown at the beach at regular intervals.
According to police records, 460 drowning deaths were reported in the last 10 years. Of them 391 were males and 69 females. About 55 per cent were in the age group of 15 to 30 years.
Visakhapatnam, Oct 16, 2016, Deccan Chronicle) Scientist-in-charge of National Institute of Oceanography, V.S.N. Murthy said that the rip current, which is the main cause for drowning deaths in Vizag and RK Beach, is dangerous for visitors. Admitting the shortage of community guards, district collector Pravin Kumar and city police chief T. Yoganand said they are chalking plans to prevent the drowning deaths and will take a decision soon.