Lack of basic equipment for community guards stationed at three beaches in city.

About two weeks ago, a 25-year-old K. Mahesh, a national-level body-builder and ace swimmer, who was working as a community guard at Yarada Beach drowned while trying to save a tourist. He hails from lower-middle class fisherman family and was contributing his mite to the family earnings.

The incident has triggered a kind of alarm in the minds of the community guards who man the beaches to save people from getting drowned.

The concept of community guards was launched in 2012. The three major beaches in the city -- R.K. Beach, Yarada and Rushikonda -- are manned by only 17 community guards in shifts. It was 18 prior to Mahesh’s death.

Among the three beaches, both Yarada and R.K. Beach are considered to be dangerous spots, because of the existence of underwater rip currents. But despite that the guards have to be present round the clock and ready to jump into the water. And essentially they take up the task without basic equipment.

Apart from the couple of buoys, the guards are not provided with life jackets, tubes, ropes and Gemini boats. Forget the equipment, they are not even provided with the basic first aid kit.

A community guard says, “The risk of getting into the water even in case of rip current is minimised if we wear a life jacket, but it has not been provided.”

All trained swimmers are from Rashtra Life Saving Society. Though technically they are under the Police Department, their salary is provided by the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC). They are paid at the rate of Rs. 300 per day, and there are instances when the monthly cheque reaches a month late.

No PF facility

There is no PF facility and the authorities are planning for an insurance scheme, after the death of Mahesh.

Unlike in river, dam or lakes, rescue operation in sea is a different ball game. It needs stamina, technique and essentially equipment.

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