Puri Beach Turns A Killer
At least 78 tourists die at Puri beach in three years
BHUBANESWAR, India - The sea beach in holy town Puri attracts tourists from far and wide, but it has turned a killer too, accounting for death of at least 78 persons in the last three years.
"At least 31 persons, including 14 students, have lost their lives while bathing in this year alone,'' An NGO Beach Protection Council of Orissa (BPCO) said.
Its preseident, Jagannath Bastia, said there were 26 casualties in 2010, while 21 persons died in 2009.
Expressing concern over the death of so many tourists, Odisha chief secretary B K Patnaik said the state government would soon identify places along a seven-km-long stretch of the beach which is the most dangerous.
The state government would soon put safety measures in place at the Puri beach and additional life guards would be deployed for the safety of the tourists, he promised.
However, BPCO and some other NGOs blamed the state government for the frequent death of tourists on the beach.
"We have been drawing attention of the government for five years. But no action has been taken," Bastia said hoping the recent decision of the chief secretary would be implemented.
Though the Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC) had asked the state government to appoint 100 traditional fishermen as special home guards to protect lives of tourists, the district police engaged them in traffic and other activities, Bastia alleged.
The OHRC in its direction to the state government in 2010 had also asked the Toursim Department to run an awareness campaign among tourists on precautions to be taken during bath.
"Don't blame the police alone for the deaths; it requires combined efforts of the police, hoteliers, NGOs and the local fishing community to ensure safety of tourists," Superintendent of Police, Puri, A N Sinha said.