Kollam: The beach here has turned into a deadly area with 68 people having lost their lives to the waves over the last 10 years. This figure is highlighted on a notice board put up by the Seashore Workers Association warning visitors of the dangers lurking at the Kollam beach.
During the last three months alone, over 50 people had a close encounter with death after they were caught in the waves. They included elderly people and kids.
City Corporation authorities promote the beach as a tourism destination that could even rival Chennai’s Marina Beach, but the waves are unpredictable in Kollam. Reasons cited are, presence of the shipping channel nearby and a shipwreck near the shore. However, that is none of the visitors’ concern. Another major problem haunting the beach is the menace of garbage.
Lack of safety measures
Even though risk to life is high in Kollam beach, the authorities concerned have failed to put in place adequate safety mechanisms. There are four lifeguards who work in shifts and are present on the beach from 7 am to 7 pm. But most visitors venture into the waters ignoring the warnings issued by the lifeguards and invite trouble. Though a rope has been tied at the beach to keep people away from dangerous spots, few tourists take notice of it. Moreover, the warning signs are also hardly given a glance. Several people who attempt to enjoy the feeling of the seawater drenching their feet end up being carried away by the waves. It is only the timely action of the lifeguards that often saves them.
Though the lifeguards have rescued numerous people risking their own lives, no proper equipment has been provided to them.
Empty plastic bottles and ice-cream packets are dumped on the beach, which not only prove to be an eyesore but also pose a health hazard. No arrangement has been made by the authorities to clear this garbage. Another threat to visitors is the presence of stray dogs abandoned on the beach after sterilization. The dogs thrive, feeding on the food waste that is always available.
Encroachment by traders
Even though the Corporation officials have resorted to evicting them on several occasions, traders keep coming back to the beach and put up stalls. The encroachment is similar to that seen on national highways and other roads. The traders occupy so much space that visitors find it hard to freely move about, especially in the evenings.
Love birds’ haunt
Kollam beach has also turned into the favourite destination of lovers in the town. They are seen enjoying each other’s company even during the hot noon time. Some even engage in public display of intimacy. Though the matter was discussed in the Corporation council, no action has been taken. It is also pointed out young girls in school uniform are also often noticed accompanying youths at the beach. But even the Pink Police supposed to protect women have failed to act.
Local residents have expressed dismay over the state of affairs at Kollam beach. Said A K Aravind of Kadappakkada, “Hundreds of people visit the beach every day and during holidays, their number runs into thousands. Earlier, the beach was bigger, but it has shrunk over the years. This increases the risk of danger. However, the authorities have failed to arrange the necessary safety measures. If the situation persists, tourists may gradually give the Kollam beach a miss.”
Kailas Kumar, a student at Perumon, chips in, “The crowds at Kollam beach during holidays is unmanageable. However, with the place becoming unsafe, people in Kollam may have to look for a spot in some other district to enjoy an outing at the beach. To avoid this situation, the authorities have to implement safety measures on a war-footing.”