The drowning of six students of GITAM University at a beach close to Rushikonda on Wednesday has once again brought to the fore need to initiate urgent measures to ban swimming at the beaches which show strong sea currents.

The first attraction for any visitor to the city from landlocked states is the beach. Unfortunately, most of the beaches in the city have been identified as ‘dangerous’ for swimming. Scores of deaths are reported every year at the beaches but ‘fatal attraction’ continues.

The National Institute of Oceanography has conducted a study on the reasons for the strong currents (rip currents) in some stretches of the Visakhapatnam coastline. “Rip current zones have been identified along Visakhapatnam coast at the beaches south of Bheemunipatnam, Erramatti Dibbalu, INS Kalinga, Rushikonda, Sagar Nagar, Tenneti Park, Old Light House area, INS Kursura Museum, Opposite Police Mess, R.K. Beach, Naval Coast Battery and Yarada,” NSN Raju, a retired Senior Technical Officer and consultant at the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) told The Hindu. The currents are so strong that they flush away sand, silt and even human beings towards the open sea, he added.

Vizag is one of the major tourist attractions in the State. The beaches and hills draw visitors from far off places and the unprotected beaches turn ‘death traps’ for these ignorant tourists who enter the sea, president of the Rushikonda Information Technology Parks Association P. Vishnu Kumar Raju said and expressed anguish over the growing instances of drowning at the beach.

It was unfortunate that none of the government departments appeared to own up responsibility for ensuring the safety of tourists, he said. “I plan to file a PIL in the High Court to force the government to set up the machinery to ensure safety of tourists,” he added.

The NIO consultant suggested that the authorities prohibit swimming between June and September at the beaches identified as dangerous. He wanted more life guards be appointed during October and November which is not only a tourist season but also the period where the seas currents would be most dangerous.

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