Police wary over potential influx of visitors to beaches

The Cherai beach road being cleared of shrubs to facilitate parking of vehicles ahead of reopening the beach.  

With beaches in the district set to be opened to the public from next month, the police along the coastal areas are keeping their fingers crossed over the potential challenges in regulating visitors in compliance with the COVID-19 protocol.

Among the prominent beaches in the district are Fort Kochi, Cherai, Munambam, Kuzhupilly, Puthuvypin, and Raktheshwari, and they fall within the limits of various police stations and local bodies. They are among the tourist destinations that the State government has allowed to be thrown open to the public from November 1.

“We are anticipating a huge influx of visitors to the beaches considering that it may serve as a safety valve for people smothered by frustrations associated with the pandemic, including being forced to stay indoors. It may be a challenge to maintain order in such an event,” said A.K. Sudheer, Station House Officer, Munambam, which accounts for at least four popular beaches, not to mention the little known access points along the nearly 12-km-long coastline within its limits.

The police said though they were yet to receive any guidelines, including the time when visitors could be allowed to beaches, plans are afoot to deploy additional patrolling and to vacate visitors using public announcement system shortly after dusk.

V.P. Unnikrishnan, secretary, Pallippuram panchayat, said the local body had started removing shrubs and weeds along the beach road to make space for parking and sprucing up street lights.

P.S. Dharmajith, Station House Officer, Njarakkal, said the police expected to have more clarity on the regulations once the CrPC Section 144 ran its course this month-end. However, many people are visiting beaches notwithstanding prohibitory orders.

The Fort Kochi police have been slapping visitors violating prohibitory orders and turning up at the beach with fine under the Kerala Epidemic Diseases Ordinance. “We are yet to receive any specific guidelines in the absence of which we will have to devise our own plans to control visitors,” said G.B. Manuraj, Station House Officer, Fort Kochi.

However, the District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC) said detailed guidelines had been issued on the permissible number of visitors and vehicles to each beach based on their capacity.

“We have started renovation of washrooms at the Munambam beach maintained by us employing Kudumbashree workers, while the Pallippuram and Kuzhupilly panchayat authorities have been asked to do the same at Cherai and Kuzhupilly beaches respectively,” said S. Vijayakumar, secretary, DTPC.

The Department of Tourism and Heritage Society which maintain facilities at the Fort Kochi beach are working on similar lines.

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2020 2:35:27 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/police-wary-over-potential-influx-of-visitors-to-beaches/article32976456.ece

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