The Girgaum Chowpatty Lifeguards Association, an NGO that helps secure Girgaum Chowpatty all year round, does not have space to store its equipment on the stretch. Their list of essentials — rescue boat, surf boat, 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, say they face the biggest challenge when they have to haul the rescue boats and heavy equipment from tempos to the shore.
Lifeguards of NGO Girgaum Chowpatty Lifeguards Association survey the beach 24/7 in shifts
The founder of the NGO, Roopesh Kothari, says that in 2012 he had written to the then ward officer of D ward, Parag Masurkar, to provide a minimum of 50 sq ft space to set up an office where equipment could be stored. Similar letters were sent to the police and senior BMC officials over the years. A letter was sent as recently as 2013 to the then Collector, too.
Devidas Kshirsagar, assistant commissioner of D ward, said, “I am unaware of the issue. If they approach me personally, I could look into the matter. But the land belongs to the Collector.” Officials from the Collector’s office were unavailable for comment.
The outfit was registered as a non-profit in 2010. With 25 full-time lifeguards, it helps keep a check on anti-social activities including chain snatching, nuisance by alcoholics and watches out for those who may attempt suicide. During New Year’s eve, Ganeshotsav and other days when crowds are expected, Kothari’s lifeguards are on high alert. They have rescued several revelers stung by jellyfish. Today, 50 lifeguards from the association will be stationed at Girgaum Chowpatty for visarjan.