Goa: 95% drowning cases in beaches due to alcohol
Panaji: If you are young, with a pale body, wearing a new ill-fitted tee shirt with 'Goa' conspicuously screen-printed on it, slightly tipsy and moving around on a beach in Goa in a group of four or five... chances are you will make the lifeguard posted on the beach earn his pay.
According to statistics available with the Drishti Special Response Services Pvt Ltd (DSRS), a private firm which looks after beach management along Goa's 105 km long coastline, nearly 95 percent of the drowning incidents in Goa are alcohol related.
"The profile of a young person with a pale body, wearing an ill-fitted Goa tee shirt, slightly drunk and moving along the beach in a group of four or five is bad news from the lifeguards perspective," DSRS chief operations officer VK Kanwar said.
He said excess consumption of alcohol by tourists on the beaches of Goa also resulted in fights with the lifeguards, especially over the issue of wading into the sea for a swim.
"Our lifeguards try to warn such tourists about the dangers of swimming in the sea, especially near the dangerous rip tides (strong currents) when you are high on alcohol. The rip tides simply drag you into the sea and from then on rescue becomes difficult," Kanwar said on the sidelines of a function held to celebrate the awarding of an ISO certification to the beach management firm.
Since being put in charge of safeguarding lives along the beaches, DSRS claims to have saved 310 lives, thanks to successful rescue operations.
Drishti group vice president Rajiv Somani, however, said despite the inherent dangers of mixing alcohol with a swim in the sea, there was no chance that the beach safety firm would advocate regulation of alcohol on Goan beaches to the state government.
"There is no need to dampen the spirits of those tourists who come to Goa. Drinks should not be regulated. We do not want to be responsible for less tourists coming to Goa. We are here to do a job of saving lives and we are doing that," Somani said.
Nearly 2.5 million tourists visit Goa annually, out of which nearly half a million are foreigners.