Azhimala turns a death trap for visitors

The unprotected rock formations behind the Azhimala Shiva temple where many an accident has occured.   | Photo Credit: MAHINSHA S

Having claimed 15 lives in eight months, the scenic Azhimala beachside cliff near Vizhinjam in Thiruvananthapuram is soon gaining notoriety as a death trap.

The recent death of a weekend holidayer has yet again spotlighted the need to declare such slippery rocks as off-limits for selfie enthusiasts. With the easing of lockdown curbs likely to attract more people to the 58-ft-tall famed Lord Shiva statue, local residents have demanded precautionary measures including lifeguard deployment to prevent further mishaps.

The issue also calls into question the safety preparedness by the Tourism Department that has lately focused on identifying tourism spots in each grama panchayat in the State in a bid to project its unexplored destinations.

Azhimala, which had burst into limelight since the unveiling of the majestic Gangadhareswara sculpture at the Azhimala Shiva Temple last year, has been witnessing a spurt in casualties, the most recent being the death of a 36-year-old Thiruvallam native who fell off the slippery rocks that he had climbed to click selfies.

C. Jerome Das, the president of Kottukal grama panchayat, says the local community has faced a torrid time in deterring travellers from climbing the unfenced cliff edge and venturing close to the seas. The local body had recently placed three warning sign boards in the area, but such measures have been inadequate.

Mr. Das demanded steps to station lifeguards along the shoreline in Pulinkudy, Azhimala, Chowara and Adimalathura. A police aid post was also necessary for effective patrolling. The Vizhinjam Coastal police, which patrol the 36-km coastline from Adimalathura to St. Andrews, too felt the delay in posting lifeguards and constructing fences could endanger more lives. There is need for constant surveillance in the area like in Kovalam and Varkala, station house officer H. Anil Kumar says.

Senior Kerala Tourism officials say a proposal for hiring lifeguards in places like Azhimala is pending before the government.

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Printable version | Oct 24, 2021 9:59:16 AM |

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