Categories: Editorial

Goa’s Lawless and Lethal Water Sports

A young tourist from West Bengal on a parasailing joyride at Colva drowned in the sea on Tuesday when the fastening rope snapped barely 50-100 metres after the takeoff. The life jacket of the victim came off as he fell. This is a case of criminal negligence of the parasailing operator. The rope was presumably worn out from use and not replaced for a long time. Their crime is compounded by the provision of loose life jacket. The tourist died despite presence of life guards equipped with speed boats. The man fell into sea barely 50-100 metres from the shore, but it took more than 10 minutes for the rescue team to reach him. The life guards present on the shore must be criminally tried too.

This is one of the several accidents tourists have met with. A couple of years ago three Russian women died in a boat ride accident in South Goa. Nearly a decade ago nine tourists from Andhra Pradesh died in yet another boat tragedy in North Goa. Concerned over the deaths due to drowning the state had requisitioned the services of a private firm to provide safety on the beaches and all equipment for ensuring faster safety were provided to its personnel. Though the number of drowning cases has come down drastically since the life saving services were introduced there have been occasional incidents, which were mainly because of negligence of operators. The owner of the boat involved in South Goa tragedy in which three Russians died did not have licence. Besides, since the water sports activities were being close to areas earmarked for swimming, several accidents also take place as water sports operators choose to ignore the guidelines and bring the joy ride boats close to swimming areas which results in people getting injured. Since the injuries are not grave and life threatening the incidents are not reported and no action is taken against the errant operators.

Though there are norms laid down for safe operation of water sports activities, it appears they are there just for the sake of it with no one doing the safety checks after the initial requirements are fulfilled. The water sports operators appear to be throwing all safety guidelines and norms to the wind to make a fast buck. Though there is a water sports policy formulated by the state government its implementation at the ground level is debatable. The question remains as to how the water sports operator at Colva carried on the operation despite the weather being foul with gushing winds. Another question that needs an answer is: how often the state government officials carry out checks of the equipments and gadgets used for water sports operations? The state cannot afford to compromise on the safety of tourists. Since tourism sector has emerged as top grosser for the state economy every care should be taken that it was safe for the tourists to be in Goa and even safer to use tourist attractions such as water sports. It would be in the interest of the state that all those involved in the acts of negligence were made accused in the deaths and injuries and prosecuted so as to send out a message that negligence would not be tolerated. Since it has been alleged that a private hospital where the victim was first rushed refused to provide medical assistance an inquiry should be held to find the truth. If the person was alive when he was rushed to the hospital then the hospital is liable for action. Only a detailed inquiry would help unravel the truth.

There is need to find out whether the parasailing activity was being carried out in ideal condition or not. As per the safety guidelines for parasailing it is very dangerous to carry out parasailing at high winds. But there being no mechanism to check out weather details at the ground level it is very difficult to find out whether the weather was ideal or not. With monsoon approaching fast the weather is bound the change with winds acquiring high speed. There is need to ensure that the weather conditions are periodically checked and steps taken by the government to ensure that life of the people is not endangered by unscrupulous water sports operators. In the event of unsuitable weather, the authorities could deploy personnel at the ground level to ensure that safety norms were strictly adhered to and no activities were carried out. The authorities should also ensure that the parasailing operators adhere to weight limits and use parachute that could bear the weight of the para-sailor, as flying outside of the stated weight limits can be potentially dangerous.

 

 

nt

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