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BMC yet to wake up to drowning cases at Aksa

Aksa beach, which has seen many deaths by drowning recently, is one of the more dangerous beaches in Mumbai, fire officials have declared. Yet, it has not been equipped with essential lifesaving amenities by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.


On the watch: Nathuram Suryavanshi (22), a lifeguard at Aksa beach, says the BMC’s warning signboards are only at the entrance of the beach and do not say much

Last Sunday’s incident -- where three young men were swept away into the sea by tidal currents and a fourth was rescued by locals — stands to prove the shoddy security and rescue arrangements at the beach.

the watchtower for lifeguards built by a hotel at the beach after 12 kids were swept away into the sea
the watchtower for lifeguards built by a hotel at the beach after 12 kids were swept away into the sea

MiD DAY had reported the incident on Sunday (‘Day out turns into disaster as 3 drown off Aksa beach’).

The dearth of equipment and lifeguards is partially responsible for the 74 lives lost at the beach in the past 14 years. The lifeguards complain about the limited resources provided to them.

The only guard present during Sunday’s tragedy said, “Aksa beach stretches to about 3 kilometres. Only five lifeguards are stationed here, two in the morning and three in the evening. At the time of the May 5 incident I was the only one keeping watch. It was impossible to save four lives at the same time.”

There are only six life jackets and five life rings available with the rescue team. “There is no emergency life saving equipment, no speedboats, limited jackets and rings. The first aid box has been contributed by us (lifeguards),” the guard said, adding, “When the boys were brought from the water, I could feel their pulse. If we had proper amenities, they could have been saved.”

The survivor of Sunday’s incident, Sandesh Mungekar, 25, is still recovering from the shock of his three friends’ deaths. He said, “There was not a single lifeguard present there.

We were helped by the locals. I lost all my close friends in the incident.” Lifeguard Nathuram Suryavanshi (22) said, “The signboards are only at the entrance of the beach and do not say much. The rest of the stretch has no warnings. BMC has provided nothing. The watchtower for guards and the unit where we sit is built by The Resort (a hotel). We do not have drinking water, electricity or sanitation facilities.”

Anuj Prakash, vice president & general manager of The Resort said, “About 10-12 years ago, 12 kids were swept away by the tides. The DCP requested us to build a police outpost and a check post tower for the guards.” He added, “We do not have a proper system of supervision. The guards working on contract basis come and go anytime.”

Casualties in last 5 years
Year       Deaths   Saved

2008      7              54
2009      6              62
2010      4              24
2011      5              26
2012      1              not available
2013      3 (till now)  

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