BHUBANESWAR:With an average of 431 cases a year, Odisha has reported 1,292 deaths due to drowning during the last three years. It has witnessed a surge in death cases over the years claiming 246 lives in 2015-16, 428 in 2016-17 and 618 people in 2017-18.Even as the casualty figure excludes the number of deaths in drowning during floods, it accounts for about 28 per cent of total number of disaster deaths.
Drowning is considered the third most common cause of accidental deaths in the State after road accidents and snakebites.
While death toll is more than 100 each in three districts during 2015-18, Balasore district tops the list of deaths at 192, Bhadrak recorded 118 deaths and Jajpur 103 deaths. Except Boudh, deaths have been reported from 238 blocks in 29 districts during the period. Highest of 40 deaths have occurred in Basudevpur block of Bhadrak district followed by 34 in Sambalpur block and 31 each in Basta block of Balasore district and Mahakalpada block of Kendrapara district.
“It is a cause of concern as the number of fatalities is rising every year. The State Government has declared drowning as a State Specific Disaster and is providing ex gratia of `4 lakh to the family of the deceased,” said Special Relief Commissioner Bishnupada Sethi.The data says, most of the drowning deaths has taken place from July to November. Of total 1,292 deaths, 783 (about 61 per cent) have been recorded in these five months suggesting that death is interlinked with the monsoon syndrome.
As many as 197 drowning cases reported in September, followed by 192 in August, 150 in October, 127 in November and 117 in July. Lowest number of deaths due to drowning occurred in February.Social activist Dilip Parida said most of the drowning cases occur during summer when children go to take bath or swim in the water bodies, which hardly have any protective measures like floating devices or lifeguards.
“Children should not be allowed to go near water bodies. The Government should come up with effective awareness programmes to engage institutions and organisations to promote safety consciousness,” he suggested.