Tourist lifeguards at the Fort Kochi beach have come under criticism after multiple incidents, including drowning of a 17-year-old boy earlier in the month, were reported at the beach. The local people have alleged that the tourist guards were of no help during the accident.
Ever since the new batch of lifeguards have been appointed in August, complaints have been pouring in. As of now, the one kilometer stretch of the Fort Kochi beach has six lifeguards, on a shift basis with three persons at a time to monitor the stretch.
“There have been several such incidents in the recent days and in most cases the local people had to rush to rescue. The life guards were not to be found. During the season, special attention has to be given as the sea is very rough. If one is caught in the current, it is difficult to escape. Locals have been careful not to get caught in the current but tourist are unaware of the peril,” said P Abu, an ice-cream vendor at the Fort Kochi Beach.
However, the lifeguards complaint that they have been missing facilities. Despite having to work for two continuous shifts of 12 hours, there are no restrooms, washrooms or facilities to store the equipment. The Fort Kochi Councillor has sent a letter to the District Collector in this regard.
“The lifeguards who served in the area were replaced en bloc with new inexperienced hands. The earlier group was experienced and knew the beach and its danger zones well. But for the new ones, to take care of the whole beach with just three people at a time is impossible. Moreover, they lack even the basic facilities. I have sent a letter to the collector asking for a light house to monitor the beach,” said Fort Kochi Councillor Antony Kureethara.
Meanwile, the Tourist Information Officer in charge of the lifeguards said the issue of transferring the lifeguards was part of the policy and building the facilities for them at beach could be done only by the Cochin Heritage Conservation Society which is chaired by the Collector.
“We had tried to delay the shifting of lifeguards from the Fort Kochi Beach. Though the transfers were due by June we postponed it till August. But it was impossible to delay it further as it is part of the policy. But we have given directions to strengthen the monitoring after the issues cropped up,” said Tourist Information officer K S Shine.