Fisherfolk give lifeguard jobs a miss

May 27, 2013, 05:45 IST | Chetna Yerunkar

Only six kolis have been appointed this year as compared to the 25 last year; kolis say poor pay and long working hours are the main reasons for the poor response

The civic body’s plan to rope in local fisherfolk to man the harsh seas during the rains has gone down the drain as the kolis - the local community - have given the officials a cold shoulder. Last year, 25 koli men had offered their assistance to moonlight as lifeguards. However, this year, the BMC hasn’t received a positive response from them. 

Role reversal: In 2010, BMC officials had approached local fishermen to moonlight as lifeguards at the city’s beaches to ensure shoreline safety and reduce the number of fatalities during the monsoon. File Pic

In 2010, the BMC had decided to appoint local fishermen of their respected koliwadas as lifeguards. Explaining the move, an official said that the kolis possessed good knowledge of how to swim in the rough seas. Additionally, they didn’t venture out much into the seas for fishing during the monsoons.

Based on this, they had decided to rope in kolis at Rs 8,000 per month on a contractual basis. Reacting to the poor response, Chief Fire Officer Suhas Joshi, said, “This year, the number of kolis who have been appointed are just six, as we did not receive a favourable reaction from them. We cannot hire just about anyone as the security of people is of utmost importance to us.”

The BMC additionally said it was finding it difficult to appoint lifeguards on contractual basis as many who had applied did not fit in the selection procedure of the BMC. The kolis said that the low pay and the long hours was the main reason for the poor response. One of the Kolis, who had applied for the post, said, “The BMC hardly pays us Rs 8,000 a month and makes us work for 12 hours. I might as well work with some trawler catching fish so that I can earn a good day’s pay. There is a lot of work and no appreciation as no one listens to lifeguards on the beaches.”

According to BMC officials, beaches like Silver Beach, Santacruz and Aksa beach are very dangerous and additional manpower is necessary but they do not have adequate men to fill the posts. 

Rs 8,000 The monthly pay of a contractual lifeguard

6 Number of koli lifeguards appointed this year 

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