Sea-bath tragedies on upswing at Lord Jagannath’s abode

Bhubaneswar: Want to relish the warmth of nature by dipping into swirling beach in Puri. Do it with adequate safety cover as sea-bath at abode of Lord Jagannath is no more a safe option.

As per Odisha’s government’s own admission, sea-bath tragedies have shot up in Pilgrim Township in the past years leading researchers to believe that sea has turned wobbly and unsteady.

The pristine sea beach has turned unsafe for humans with spurt in drowning cases with 36 cases of human casualties have been reported in period spanning from 2013-2016.

The breakup of drowning in Puri sea beach is 2014- 8, 2015- 11 and 2016- 18, the minister for Tourism and Culture, Ashok Panda told the state assembly replying a question by a member.

As tourists throw caution into winds and take bath in unsteady seawaters, their plunge is turning fatal.

The human toll could have been much on higher side. But the local sea-going fishermen, locally called ‘nolias’, have saved precious lives by timely leap into the sea.

The popular beach which is a favoured destination for both domestic and international tourists has virtually turned into a watery graveyard for various reasons. And prominent among them is increase in the roughness of the sea close to the Puri coastline in the recent years. To add to this, cavalier attitude of tourists in dipping in vulnerable sea zones and absence of adequate safety measures on part of government machineries aggravate the situation further.

The minister Panda however pointed out the Puri district administration rose to the occasion in ensuring the safety of tourists.

As many as 266 nolias have been deployed for safe sea-bath in Puri beach. These life saviours were also covered under insurance cover with the government bearing the premium payment. The nolias are doing a noble service by saving many people from meeting watery grave, he said.

The Puri district administration has identified as susceptible sea zones where sea-bath tragedies are recurring. It has put in place signposts and billboards in these places issuing statutory warning on sea bath. However people are exposing themselves to watery onslaught by venturing into unsteady seawaters, the minister Panda added.

Residents of the temple township are peeved over the absence of required safety measures for tourists.

“The government agencies are watching silently as sea is consuming human lives steadily. Though are doing an excellent jobs, there is the need for engaging skilled and trained rescue divers. As the number of people taking sea bath runs to thousands every day, more trained people should be on the job from dawn to dusk to ensure safe sea-bath”, remarked a resident of Puri township, Harekrushna Mishra.