BMC asks fishermen to moonlight as lifeguards

Jul 27, 2012, 06:52 IST | Chetna Yerunkar

After the increase in drowning cases at various beaches around the city, the municipal authority has decided to employ fishermen to ensure safety of beachgoers

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is finally taking the lives of citizens seriously, as they have decided to appoint local fishermen of their respected Koliwadas as lifeguards. However, the decision has left private lifeguard organisations feeling neglected.

Role reversal: Local fishermen will now be employed as lifeguards at the city’s beaches to ensure shoreline safety. Pic/ Nimesh Dave

Taking notice of the sharp rise in the number of drowning cases this year, the BMC had decided to employ fishermen while keeping in mind the string of drowning cases at Juhu beach.

From early June till now, about 16 cases have been noted, half of which were at Juhu beach itself. The BMC is working on a plan in co-ordination with the Koliwada people so that they could safeguard the lives of the citizens.

A source from the fire department said, “We have appointed a decent number of people to safeguard the city, but because of the past cases at Juhu beach, we were forced to increase our security there. We have about 8 lifeguards there, but at the end of the day, it is up to the citizens to not enter a beach during high tide and to be co-operative.” When he was asked about the addition in the number of lifeguards, he said, “Appointment of more lifeguards is under process, and this is something we cannot comment on at this time.”

Manisha Mhaiskar, additional municipal commissioner (Western suburbs), said, “We are not appointing anymore lifeguards, but are working on a plan in co-ordination with the fishermen and the Koliwada residents so that they can work under the BMC as official lifeguards.”

Subroto Mukherjee, a lifeguard from the Lifeguard Association at Juhu said, “I am not happy with the BMC’s plan, as they will hire fishermen to do our job. We are the ones who are around day and night, and now we are being ignored which is not fair on their part.” Vinod Mangela, a member of the fishermen association at Juhu beach said, “If BMC goes ahead with its plan, it will be a very good deal because we currently work on the beach for free, and if they could give us some money in this respect, nothing like it.”

The lifeguards
There are about 35 lifeguards guarding the six main beaches of Mumbai — Aksa beach, Juhu beach, Gorai beach, Dadar chowpatty, Girgaon chowpatty and Versova beach. Only 11 out of the 35 are permanent lifeguards with the BMC, while the others are on a contractual basis. 

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