mid-day editorial: Let's ensure Murud tragedy isn't repeated

What was supposed to be a fun-filled day-long picnic at Murud beach in Alibaug turned into a nightmare for a group of students from a Pune college after 14 of them drowned in the sea

What was supposed to be a fun-filled day-long picnic at Murud beach in Alibaug turned into a nightmare for a group of students from a Pune college after 14 of them drowned in the sea.

More than 100 students from Abeda Inamdar College had gone to Murud for a picnic along with 11 faculty members. Reports state that the teachers and some locals had warned the students to stay away from the water. But once the teachers left for sightseeing, some of the students did not heed warnings and went into the water to take selfies even as high tide was approaching. Tragedy struck soon after, and Coast Guard aircraft and local boats were pressed into action for search and rescue operations. Some local heroes also dived into the water to and managed to rescue six students. Very often, we see locals who know the sea well, jumping in to rescue swimmers in distress. While this is all very well, this has to be backed by technology and professionals.

Small beaches on the fringes of Mumbai need to have better rescue facilities and lifeguards. At most of these beaches, it is the locals who pose as lifeguards, but there is an urgent need for professional lifeguards to be deployed. The lifeguards should be backed by training and equipment to make rescue operations effective and easier. Communication services are all important. A couple of beaches together can share a command centre, so that resources can be pooled and assisted by quick, smooth communication during for rescue operations.

Swimmers too need to heed warnings by locals, who know the terrain and waters best. In the absence of adequate warning signboards, it is common sense to listen to locals. Throwing caution to the wind and not taking cognisance of warnings, has resulted in so many totally avoidable tragedies. Dual responsibility — that of the authorities and the picnickers — is the only way to put a stop to these incidents.

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