S. Harpal Singh
Despite warning, tipsy picnickers venture near waterfall and are drowned
Total of 35 deaths since the rainy season of year 2000Many visitors consume drinks before entering water
ADILABAD: Visitors have always come to the beautiful Kuntala waterfall in Neredigonda mandal of Adilabad district looking for a spot comparable to the imaginary Shangri-la. However, for a good number of them this scenic place turned out to be a water grave.
The two deaths due to drowning in the waterfall on September 10 has raised the total to 35 deaths since the rainy season of year 2000, despite things looking up since 2004 when the Forest
Department took up an eco-tourism project involving the Kuntala Vana Samrakshana Samiti (VSS).
Consumption of liquor by picnickers is the main reason for such drowning accidents and resultant deaths. Pointed out S. Narasaiah, the Kuntala VSS chairman, "Many visitors here have a drink too many before entering the water to have fun. Not knowing to swim they end up getting drowned. In the latest incident the two persons drowned in chest-deep water."
"Not that we are not warning visitors of the danger of having a bath in the swirling water in drunken condition. Last year, our VSS members faced physical assault from a party of picnickers from Armoor," said Boath Forest Range Officer N. Raghava Chary.
Under the eco-tourism project, the Forest Department has trained six members of the Kuntala VSS as guides, who keep happenings at the waterfall under close watch. Besides, warning signs and mesh have been put up at accident-prone spots. "As a result, we had only one accidental death at the waterfall last year. It was because the person slipped into the fall while clicking a photograph," said Adilabad Divisional Forest Officer B. Prabhakar.
"Though we are contemplating banning liquor consumption at the waterfall, it may not suit the purpose. In any case we will extend our vigilance to uncovered spots too," the DFO added.