Nearly three months after its reopening following the drowning of two youths, Paniyeali Poru still remains a dangerous place for tourists.
Nearly three months after its reopening following the drowning of two youths, the river-side tourist destination of Paniyeali Poru, located on the outskirts of Ernakulam district, still remains a dangerous place for tourists.
Official sources said except the installation of some 20-odd warning boards at different points, none of the safety measures mooted against the backdrop of the incident had materialised. “Installation of warning boards will not alone ensure the safety of tourists. People still continue to venture into the river at different parts and the forest department has failed to ensure effective implementation of steps to regulate their movement inside the location,” they said.
“Of the lifeguards monitoring the movement of tourists, only five of them are expert swimmers, which itself shows the vulnerability of the emergency rescue system here,” they added. Earlier in March, two college students from Kochi drowned in the river here, following which the Forest Department had closed down the spot. It was reopened after four days in view of demands from local people and the Vana Samrakshana Samithi (VSS), the agency entrusted to monitor tourist activities here.Other plans
Considering the possibility of another accident, the forest department had asked the VSS to install sign boards displaying warning messages for visitors. Further, there were also plans to strengthen the number of life guards and train them in public relations and giving first aid besides setting up a mechanism to ban those entering the spot after consuming alcohol.
The forest officials pointed out that VSS was responsible for ensuring the security system in the area and the agency had been directed to implement all recommendations, including strengthening the number of life guards and impart them training. “The earlier proposal to install railings on the riverside was shelved. The security training for lifeguards will begin soon,” said Suneel Pamidi, Divisional Forest Officer, Malayattoor.
During the past two decades, 89 persons have lost their lives in the dangerous spots in the region where the Periyar flows through the rocky terrain. In most of the cases, deaths happened when the victims crashed their heads on the rocks after losing grip on slippery rocks.