Srinagar, June 14: The soaring mercury for more than a month has made Kashmiris explore options to beat the scorching summer heat. Like every summer people including youth and teenagers are reaching various water bodies for swimming amid soaring heat. The increase in swimming practices has led to a jump in deaths by drowning across Kashmir.
Locals and authorities across various districts in Kashmir say the unsafe and unchecked swimming practices leads to loss of precious lives every year. The locals say that as the partial lockdown has kept most of the youth confined to homes, more and more people are going swimming to beat the heat.
As the Greater Kashmir went through various reports of deaths related to drowning, it found out that around a dozen deaths were reported since May, most of them directly related to unsafe swimming practices.
In one recent incident on 7th of June, 18-year-old Faizan Ahmed died in Budgam’s Nilnag Lake while bathing. In another incident, a 17-year-old boy drowned in Srinagar’s Noorbagh area on 21 May. On 9 June a 14-year-old boy died after drowning in Budgam. A minor also died by drowning on June 02 in North Kashmir’s Bandipora. Authorities in Bandipora banned swimming in Nallah Madhumati from 10 June. In the last two weeks two people in Handwara and one in Kakapora Pulwama drowned in water bodies. Two among them were children and one was a youth. In another incident, an elderly woman drowned in Sangam on 17 May. Two incidents of swimming-related deaths were also reported in Poonch on 6th and 11 June.
Experts believe that unchecked swimming practices, lack of proper swimming and rescue training are leading to the huge number of deaths by drowning every year. They also said that there are no rescue teams deployed around water bodies in Kashmir.
Riyaz Ahmed Wani, a certified swimming and rescue trainer in Kashmir told the Greater Kashmir that proper swimming training to those living near water bodies can save lives. He also said that swimming and rescue training should be taught from schooling in Kashmir. Riyaz Ahmed, who is also general secretary of Kashmir’s Swimming and Survival Society, said that as per their data around 70 to 80 drowning incidents happen every year in J&K.
“In these incidents, only 10 percent of people are saved and 90 percent of people lose their lives. This year around 17 people drowned in Kashmir, only three could be saved which tells a lot about our swimming and rescue scenario. Kashmir is a place full of water bodies and if you compare the people with swimming and rescue training, it is barely 5 percent. In Delhi where there are negligible water bodies as compared to Kashmir, over 35 percent of people know swimming and rescue skills,” Wani said.
Wani said that in Kashmir there are only 3 water sports centers and more such centers are needed to be opened to train people.
“At times people who go to rescue people end up losing their own lives due to lack of training. There is also a need for more rescue squads around water bodies so that lives can be saved,” he said.
Experts like Wani and others say that intervention by government and public awareness can help in improving the swimming and rescue scenario in Kashmir. They say it will not only help in saving lives but will also contribute to water sports in Kashmir. With increasing deaths by drowning, the administration at some places has resorted to banning swimming practices around dangerous water bodies in Kashmir.