Sun, Sand and Safety

The death of 13 college students off the coast of Murud beach comes as a shock. The relatively cleaner stretch of sand, with a narrow road running parallel to it is a great place for an evening stroll. I remember spending a leisurely afternoon there. I know how tempting it must have been to enter the waters and maybe splash around for sometime. I am sure the professors accompanying the students would have thought it to be a harmless activity.

Had it been any other beach with a slight gradient and low undertow; it would have been a perfect beach holiday with an excursion to the nearby Murud Janjira fort. Was there lack of oversight among the teachers? Perhaps. Were students so naive; maybe. But were they warned? Was there anyway of them knowing that the beach is known to be dangerous for swimming?

During the afternoon when the incident took place, the locals and tourists don't frequent the beach. It is quite isolated. Naturally, with nobody to turn them around the big group must have made straight to the water. In 2014, some folks from Chembur also drowned in these treacherous waters.

If there is any takeaway from these sad incidents, it is that local capacity building is vital. Fishermen in the vicinity can easily be trained to become full time Lifeguards with the necessary knowledge and equipment. The cost can be borne by the district administration, tourism department and the gram panchayat.

The beaches of Maharashtra deserve to be promoted as International beach holiday destinations but not without taking these simple preventive measures that would ensure that the holiday doesn't turn into a nightmare.


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