ICT streams a death trap for bathers

Over 52 youth have lost their lives by drowning in five years


Iftikhar Chaudhry May 23, 2021
The once clean stream is now full of trash. PHOTOS: EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD:

More than 52 youth in the federal capital have lost their lives by drowning in the city’s open water streams and dams in the last five years. It is surprising that despite the loss of so many precious lives, the district administration and federal capital police officials seem to be the least bit concerned and taken no interest whatsoever in implementing Section 144 which restrains the people from bathing in such water channels. In the latest such tragic incident which occurred on Friday evening, two friends drowned while bathing in a water stream of Chappar Bridge situated within the jurisdiction of Nellore police station.

According to the police, residents of the area tried their best to save the two youth but all of their endeavours failed. However, after immense efforts, the local people did manage to retrieve both bodies from the deep waters of the stream. The police reached the site of the tragedy when the residents had all but succeeded in retrieving the drowned youth. The law enforcers identified the dead as Tanveer and Naeem, 17 and 18 years old. Both were friends and worked as labourers in a workshop and were availing their weekly leave on Friday.

It is to be noted that bathing in any water stream, drain, river or dam in the district is supposed to be strictly prohibited by the district administration under Section 144. However, it is unfortunate that the security officials of the concerned police stations where such streams and dams are located take no interest in enforcing the ban. So much so that the authorities have also failed to put up notice boards at these sites warning of the danger and admonishing the adventurous type of people that they can fall foul of the law for doing so. It is because of this apathy on the part of the authorities that youngsters who don’t know better are losing their lives by gong bathing in these places. Naturally, most of these incidents take place in the summer.

There are 22 police stations across the district and almost all of them fail to carry out the instructions of the district administration. All the same, the circle officers of the district administration are also to blame as they merely pass orders and have rarely if ever followed up on their directives by taking practical measures and putting in extra personal efforts in the enforcement of the ban. A senior police officer in the federal capital told The Express Tribune that in the last five years, more than 52 youth have lost their lives due to reckless behaviour by acting like daredevils and not thinking twice about bathing in dams, drains and streams.

When reminded by this correspondent that the police and district administration take little or no interest in enforcing the ban on bathing he gave a sheepish grin and said it was almost impossible to keep a watch on all these spots as they numbered in the hundreds and they did not have the resources to monitor all of them. This correspondent also asked a social worker what was the solution to this issue. The social worker who declined to be identified said a multi-pronged strategy was needed to address the matter. First: a well-publicised media campaign to highlight the dangers of bathing should be carried out.

Second: Along with the media campaign signboards warning the public against bathing be put up in prominent places. Third: Bathing should be made a minor offence attracting a fine. Fourth: After the above three measures are adopted, police and district authorities should conduct intense campaigns over short durations to apprehend such merrymakers and present them in city courts to pay fine and face other admonishments.

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