Sunday evening, it was life’s a beach for Mumbai as the city marked Ganpati visarjan. A report in this newspaper stated that The Girgaum Chowpatty Lifeguards Association, an NGO that helps secure Girgaum Chowpatty all year round, did not have space to store its equipment on the stretch. Essentials like rescue boats, surf boats, swimming tubes, torches, ropes, life-jackets, rings, binoculars, walkie-talkies and search lights, all have to be stored at a member’s residence in Girgaum, and hauled to the site daily. The lifeguards, who survey the beach 24/7 in shifts, said in the report that they have to haul the rescue boats and heavy equipment from tempos to the shore.
The NGO states that despite numerous pleas and letters they are not given a space at the beach or in close proximity to the beach. Authorities claim it is Collectors’ land, so there may be a slew of permissions needed to have a small structure there to store equipment.
The civic authorities need to look at this issue with utmost urgency. It is ridiculous that lifeguards, who are performing vital functions and saving lives have to store equipment at a home, away from the beach and lug it to the venue, when on duty. Sometimes, precious time may be wasted simply bringing the equipment on to the beach. We need to put a premium on lives and safety on our beaches. As it is, we are struggling with a paucity of lifeguards and skeletal equipment when it comes to our beaches. Mumbai lacks a ‘beach culture’ inspite of having so many beaches.
An organisation and individuals that secure our waterfronts, need not have these obstacles. In fact, the civic authorities must recognise the work they are doing by making the path smoother for them.
If one can have shops and stalls on beaches, why not a small space where lifesaving equipment can be stored? Let us see will and an earnest effort to ensure that these necessities be put under lock and key on the beach, or at least in a space very close to the beach. All infrastructure on the beach, please.