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No joyrides in jeep, motorcycle on Goa beaches

By Ians English

Panaji, March 10: Taking a joyride in a jeep or a motorcycle on Goa's popular beaches may soon be a thing of the past, with a top official of a private lifeguard agency saying that a strategy was being worked out with the state police machinery to stop the errant practice.

Ankit Somani, MD, Drishti Lifesaving, the private agency hired by the state Tourism Ministry to provide beach management solutions along Goa's busy beaches, also said it is working to ensure better coordination with the state police machinery to make conditions more secure for the four million plus visiting tourists.

Policeman keep vigil on the shoreline as tourists enjoy at Calangute beach in Goa.

"It is the tourists who largely complain and face the menace of private vehicular movement on the beaches. Playing the additional role of stewards at the beaches, we put across this problem and other wrongdoings which take place at the beaches to the police," Somani told IANS, adding that car registration numbers of the violators would be recorded and be handed over to the police for action.

The Goa Tourism Ministry first appointed a private lifeguard agency nearly a decade ago to bring down the rate of drowning along popular beaches like Calangute, Baga and Anjuna. The lifeguard cover was later extended to most of the beaches frequented by tourists.

Somani now claims that there was still a need to create awareness about beach safety to ensure that visitors are safe. The issue of beach visitors defying lifeguards, especially vis-a-vis sticking to the demarcated swim zone, persists.

"There are times when we come across tourists who don't want to adhere to preventive measures, for example, they may insist on swimming in the no-swim zones. We explain the dangers to them in a calm manner. However, in case we can't handle them we inform the police officers, who come in and assist in the situation," Somani said.

The official also said that strategies were being worked out with the state police to handle trouble makers and crowd management on the beaches.

Somani said that at a recent meeting with top police officers, a strategy was worked out to "handle aggressive tourists on the beaches and deployment of IRB (India Reserve Battalion) personnel at some of the less popular beaches which has seen a surge of crowds in recent times, especially over weekends and holidays".

Somani also said that in view of the rush of tourists to Goa's beaches on weekends, marshalling of lifeguards and their duties is key.

"Our lifeguards are at full strength on holidays and weekends due to the surge of visitors to the beaches. We don't plan any day offs during weekends and holidays. On an average we have 14 lifeguards stationed on each of the 40 beaches which are manned by us," he said.

"On popular beaches such as Baga, Calangute and Colva we have an average of 22 lifeguards deployed. Lifeguards take their weekly offs, and planned leaves on non-peak days," Somani said.


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