Drowning deaths soar by 296% in last 4-years in Odisha!

Instead of taking preventive measures in the identified burdensome blocks, Odisha Government has limited its role to declaring it as State specific disaster & sanctioning Rs 4 lakh ex gratia

Bhubaneswar: Odisha records nearly 2 deaths due to drowning, which  has been categorised as the third-highest contributor to natural accidental deaths in Odisha.

As per the data available with the State Relief Commissioner (SRC), Odisha had witnessed nearly 843 drowning deaths in 2018-19.  The data shows during the period of 2016-19, Odisha had recorded nearly 2,135 drowning deaths.

A look at the trend suggests a rise of nearly 296 per cent in deaths owing to drowning during the period 2015-19. The SRC data had put the toll in 2015-16 at 246 and the toll in 2018-19 touched 843.  The State has recorded almost 72 per cent of drowning deaths in the rainy season (July – September) followed by summer months. A gender-wise look puts the male toll higher than female.

As per the data available, Balasore district tops the list and is followed by Bhadrak and Jajpur. Reports of deaths were reported from 238 blocks in 29 districts during the period. The high burden of drowning deaths were borne by Basudevpur block in Bhadrak, Sambalpur block, Basta block in Balasore and Mahakalpada block in Kendrapara district. Though deaths due to drowning is witnessed from across the State, the data shows coastal areas bear the maximum burden in the State.

Significantly, when the State has identified the burdensome blocks, the irony is the State has limited its role to declaring drowning as a State Specific Disaster and decided to provide ex gratia of Rs 4 lakh to the family of the deceased. But no specific preventive measures have been initiated.

As per WHO, in order to prevent such accidental deaths, governments need to identify the vulnerable population and places and initiate measures like fencing of water bodies, building of bathing ghats etc. Also, the local administration should implore upon the local populace to learn swimming skills.