Drowning deaths: It is curtains for Vizag lifeguards

The lifeguards have been saving the lives of the beach visitors for years. Vizag beaches had witnessed a series of drowning deaths in 2010 and 2012. It had dented the image of Vizag prompting GVMC to recruit the lifeguards (fishermen community youngsters and experts in swimming in blue waters) on a contract basis.

By Newsmeter Network  Published on  15 March 2022 4:04 AM GMT
Drowning deaths:  It is curtains for Vizag lifeguards

Visakhapatnam: The Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) is all set to do away with the lifeguards.

The lifeguards have been saving the lives of the beach visitors for years. Vizag beaches had witnessed a series of drowning deaths in 2010 and 2012. It had dented the image of Vizag prompting GVMC to recruit the lifeguards (fishermen community youngsters and experts in swimming in blue waters) on a contract basis. Their primary job was to assist the city police in rescue activities. All of them were posted at the beaches to prevent drowning deaths.

At present, 38 lifeguards were working in Vizag city. Police said 18 lifeguards were posted at Ramakrishna Beach, 10 lifeguards at Rushikonda beach, six at Yarada beach, and four at Jodugullapalem.

The lifeguards have rescued over 100 persons from drowning on the beaches in the past two years. "We have been saving lives at the beach by risking our lives as we don't have life-saving equipment such as lifejackets, marine-lifesaving lifebuoys, ropes, public announcement system, and one boat. We are risking our lives sometimes (when rip current is high) to save visitors," said one of the lifeguards.

He said GVMC authorities told them their contract will not be renewed after March 31. "They also asked us to approach the city police department citing that the lifeguards were appointed by GVMC but they were working under city police department only," he said.

GVMC has failed to pay the regular wages. "GVMC paid seven months wages in January 2022 and four months' wages are still pending. Each guard is paid Rs 18,000. After statutory deductions, they get around Rs 15,000 per month, said Pola Rao P, one of the lifeguards

Raju N, another lifeguard, said the GVMC council may not renew their contract as they claimed that it is not their business to pay the wages. "They also expressed that let the police department pay the wages to lifeguards citing that the police have trained and allot daily duties," he said

Police will be meeting GVMC authorities to persuade them to renew the contract of the lifeguards. Cops are also planning to rope star hotel and a few other PSUs to fund the lifeguards. "It is very difficult to prevent drowning deaths in the absence of the lifeguards," police said,.

-Over 525 drowning deaths were reported in Vizag city between 2006 and 2018

-As many as 57 people drowned in city beaches from 2019 to 2022 so far.

-Vizag has beautiful beaches. People throng Ramakrishna, Rushikonda, Yarada, and Appikonda beaches.

-The rip currents are strong and sudden and can't be noticed by a layman.

-Over 20,000 visit RK Beach during peak season and weekends.

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