Vizag's dangerous beaches kill 41

Vizag's dangerous beaches kill 41

Five students of Gandhi Institute of Technology and Management (GITAM) drowned at Rushikonda beach on Wednesday taking the number of casualties at beaches along the Visakhapatnam coast in Andhra Pradesh to 41 till date in 2012 and a total of 170 lives in a span of four years.

 Considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in India attracting huge crowds round the year, these east coast beaches have a rocky terrain and swirling rip tides transforming them into dangerous beaches to an uninformed visitor.

Statistics with the beach police stations say that nearly half the casualties occurred at Rushikonda beach followed by Ramakrishna, Bheemunipatnam and Yarada beaches.
“Around 30 per cent of the victims are women visitors from outside the district as they are not aware of the tidal movement and get trapped between the rocks,” police sources said.

In 2010, after the death of five friends in Rushikonda beach, the municipal authorities came out with proposals to station life guards at crucial locations. But after two years, neither life guards nor boards cautioning the visitors could be seen anywhere.

City police commissioner J Purnachandra Rao said, “We cannot appoint life guards but we can warn visitors and restrict visiting hours.” According to V S N Murthy, scientist-in-charge at the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Visakhapatnam, rip currents are wind or wave currents that can be fatal and tend to be high during the summer.

 An NIO study on the rip currents in some stretches of the Visakhapatnam coastline says: “Rip current zones have been identified along Visakhapatnam coast at the beaches south of Bheemunipatnam, Erramatti Dibbalu, INS Kalinga, Rushikonda, Sagar Nagar, Tenneti Park, Old Light House area, INS Kursura Museum, Opposite Police Mess, and R K Beach, Naval Coast Battery and Yarada.”  The currents are so strong that they flush away sand, silt and even human beings towards the open sea, the report says.

Several activists have suggested prohibiting swimming in dangerous areas during the months of June-September when the tides are most lethal.

Environmental groups active on the east coast attribute the rip tides to the dredging of sand at the port. “The deepening of sea to accommodate heavier ships into the port has created a whirling effect on the coast,” they pointed out.