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Necessary Precautions

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Not a day passes without reports of tourists drowning in the rivers of Uttarakhand. The problem has been greatly exacerbated by the selfie culture that encourages people to take risks they absolutely would not in their normal lives. On Monday, for instance, a youth was swept away, followed by his sibling who jumped in to try and save him. One can only imagine the suffering the incident will have inflicted on the family of the victims! It is important, therefore, for the authorities as well as local communities in the state to take necessary measures to prevent such mishaps. Not least because continuation of such incidents could discourage people from visiting the state, thereby impacting its reputation and economy!

The effort could first begin with creating awareness, as it is the easiest. All visitors, when they cross the borders, should be provided safety pamphlets that contain a list of precautions to be taken during their stay. Prominent among these should be warnings about taking chances with rivers in the absence of lifeguards and other safety protocols. If this message is conveyed with the necessary emphasis, and even cold blooded statistics provided about the daily toll, people will be less inclined to take risks.

Next, a sense of responsibility needs to be inculcated in the host communities everywhere the visitors like to go. All those making a living out of tourism should make the effort to advise and guide the tourists on remaining safe. That would be much easier than risking their own lives, as they often do, in the attempt to rescue those in trouble. Shops, eateries and such like should have warnings prominently displayed on the do’s and don’ts. Local authorities should put up signboards at favourite halts and ‘selfie points’ on measures to ensure safety.

While there are places in the state where police and other personnel are deployed for safety and rescue purposes, the number is by no means enough. Youngsters should be trained and employed throughout the state to act as lifeguards at popular destinations. Whatever the cost, the returns will be entirely worth the effort. It would be much better than being cursed by the grieving parents of the victims – as Devbhoomi, we should be aware of the consequences of that!