Police Patrol Columns

Merrymakers on beaches pose a huge challenge

Often, tourists enter the waters not realising the depth and end up drowning. Photo: R. Ragu   | Photo Credit: R_Ragu

Preventing instances of drowning along the lengthy coastline in Chennai remains a real challenge for the city police who have adopted various measures to keep people from entering the rough waters of the Bay of Bengal.

A total of 17 persons have drowned in the sea, as of May 30, this year, with the high tides off Marina Beach alone claiming seven lives. Some bodies washed ashore while the rest went missing. It is an agonising wait for the families of those who go missing in the sea.

Cases like that of Ashok Kumar, a youth from Coimbatore, who went missing in the Marina following a jolly dip in April 2011, are even more saddening. His body washed ashore a day later, and the police gave him a burial after declaring him unidentified. More than two years later, his family members came to Chennai to visit the burial spot and perform last rites.

Now, warnings apart, the police have undertaken various measures, including deployment of the famed mounted unit of the Chennai City Police, to prevent drowning off Marina, Elliot’s and Thiruvanmiyur beaches.

Local folks familiar with the sea are roped in, especially on holidays (most importantly on Kaanum Pongal) to help the police.

Interestingly, for a brief period, a street dog was used by the police to warn, and if need be, scare off ‘adventurous’ swimmers at Marina. Despite all efforts, however, drowning claims lives, time and again. Are teams of lifeguards along the city’s coastline the only sure shot way to prevent the loss of precious lives?


Well-trained swimmers, a doctor and an ambulance will be stationed at three spots — Anna Square, Kannagi Statue and Gandhi Statue — along the Marina.

An initiative of St. John Ambulance, in coordination with Coastal Security Group, the Chennai Corporation and Southern Railway Brigade, the move is aimed at saving beachgoers from drowning in the sea.

D. Vadivel Mugundhan, chairman of St. John Ambulance, said a team of eight persons, including the swimmers, has been posted on the Marina, and will be on duty on Saturdays and Sundays, between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Often, tourists enter the waters not realising the depth and drown accidentally. The organisation conducted a study before launching the programme, said Dr. Mugundhan.

Explaining the reason for posting the team on weekends, Dr. Mugundhan said it was on those two days crowds thronged the beaches. Initially, the project will be implemented on the Marina, and gradually be extended to other beaches such as Mamallapuram, Nagapattinam, Rameswaram, Tiruchendur and Kanyakumari.

St. John Ambulance has also tied up with a private hospital, which has agreed to provide medical assistance during emergencies, said Dr. Mugundhan. In case of an emergency on the beach, members of the public can contact the following numbers for assistance: 9884600089 or 9176989161.

(Reporting by Petlee Peter and P. Oppili)

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Printable version | Sep 26, 2021 4:37:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/chen-columns/merrymakers-on-beaches-pose-a-huge-challenge/article6083019.ece

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