Lifeguard strike on Goa beaches kicks political storm

Lifeguard strike on Goa beaches kicks political storm

Tourism Minster Manohar Ajgaonkar. (Image Twitter)

An ongoing strike by several dozen lifeguards patrolling Goa’s popular beaches, has triggered a political storm with the main Opposition party, the Congress, on Sunday demanding the resignation of Tourism Minster Manohar Ajgaonkar's over the chaos related to beach safety issues. 

Congress spokesperson Swati Kerkar on Sunday said that the death of two tourists, amid the ongoing strike by lifeguards, would severely impact Goa’s reputation as a safe beach tourism destination, also highlighting ill-treatment of lifeguards, who are employed by a private beach-safety firm.

"The Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar should resign immediately failing which Chief Minister Pramod Sawant should sack him for his failure to provide safety and security to the tourists in Goa and Tourism Minister’s hand in gross corruption and irregularities in his department,” Kerkar told reporters here. 

For the last four days, a group of nearly 70 lifeguards struck work, alleging delay in payment of wages by the private firm Drishti Marine. 

“Goa has witnessed two deaths at beaches in a weeks time which has exposed the collapse of beach safety and lifeguarding services. Nobody from the government has uttered a word even after the two unfortunate deaths,” Kerkar said.

Last week, one person died following a lightening strike, while another tourist drowned off the Baga beach.

Goa’s 100-km plus beach-dotted coastline is manned by nearly 600 lifeguards employed by Drishti Marine. Nearly 70-odd lifeguards are currently on strike, demanding timely payment of back wages. 

The private firm has expressed regret due to the delay and has incentivised lifeguards who reported for duty. 

"The Company regrets the delay in salaries and dues which were because of circumstances beyond its control. Increment arrears from July 2019 are being processed and will be paid to all lifeguards including captains and supervisors who did not strike work,” a statement issued by Drishti Marine said.

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