High tide puts visarjan in a spin

Sep 11, 2011, 07:54 IST | Maleeva Rebello & Chetna Yerunkar

Lifeguards and law enforcement agencies are worried about a possible rise in the number of drowning cases

Owing to 12 feet-high and 10 feet-high tides that are expected to hit the city at 11.45 am today on Ananth Chaturthi, and 12.06 am (on Monday) respectively, lifeguards and law enforcement agencies are worried about a possible rise in the number of drowning cases. Wednesday's Delhi High Court bombings have also added to the woes of the officials. While lifeguards and policemen up the ante to control the huge crowds at the beach on the last day of the festival as a routine every year, this year, they are taking extra precautions because of the expected high tide. The full moon night on Monday is the reason why a high tide is expected.

Members of a Walkeshwar pandal hold up a notice sent by the Malabar
Hill police station asking them to wrap up visarjan by 7 pm on Sunday.
PIC/ bipin kokate

Twenty four CCTV cameras have been installed along the length of Juhu Beach, from Juhu Koliwada to Hotel Tulip Star, and officers dressed in civil clothes will be patrolling the beach in the wake of Wednesday's terror attack outside Delhi High Court. The BMC has deployed extra lifeguards who have been hired from agencies and pools across the city to help the existing team at various immersion points in the city -- Mahim, Girgaum Chowpatty, Dadar Chowpatty, Juhu Beach, Bandra Bandstand and Backbay Reclamation.

Brahmadev Yadav, a lifeguard at Juhu Chowpatty, said, "Many devotees who were unable to visit Ganpati mandals often make it to the closest beach on the last day to catch a glimpse of all the idols." Though the actual process of Visarjan starts only after 2 pm, the crowds start thronging the beach at 11 am itself, which has lifeguards and the police worried.

At Juhu Beach alone, lifeguards have increased their strength from 80 on the seventh day, to 140 today. D Bunty Rao, a lifeguard from the Juhu Lifeguards Association said, "Hawkers are not allowed to sell eatables on the beach during Visarjan, so we recruit them to help us patrol the beach."

Ten fire officials have also been posted at all Visarjan points to ensure there are no incidents of drowning.

Mahendra Midgaonkar, Station Officer, Marol fire station said, "We will be on duty at the beach on Sunday and Monday, to make sure crowds heed the advice of lifeguards. If the need arises, trained lifeguards in the fire department will also assist the lifeguards posted at Visarjan points. The crowd tends to turn chaotic after 11 pm, just when it will be time for the high tide to strike."

Meanwhile, the Malabar Hill police station has issued a notice to all mandals at Walkeshwar, asking them to complete their Visarjans before 7 pm, as a low tide will wash the shores from 7 pm to 11 pm, failing which they will have to immerse their idols the following day.

The BMC disaster management cell, however, disagreed with the data, saying that low tide of two feet was expected at 5.20 pm instead. Clearly, the two official agencies seem to be confused about tide timings.

Rajkumar Badbe, Treasurer of Balgopal Sarvajanik Ganesh Utsav Mandal is cynical. "The police officers want to get done with their duty early, which is why they have sent us this notice. In the last 42 years, our mandal has never received any such intimation from the police. Why this year?"

Pradeep Kuvare, spokesperson for another mandal said, "We won't be able to complete Visarjan before 7 pm because like in previous years, we leave the pandal around that time and it takes a good five hours to reach Girgaum Chowpatty."

A senior Police officer from Malabar Hill Police station said, "This notice has been sent to all pandals that fall in Malabar Hill. According to the information we have, a low tide is expected between 7 and 11 pm. According to tradition too, immersion is supposed to be completed on Ananth Chaturthi, before midnight."

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