To curb the number of drowning incidents at Aksa beach, the Malwani police have roped in the locals to keep a watch on visitors.
This year, until May 31, the stall owners at Aksa beach have helped the lifeguards rescue eight people from drowning. There are just four to five lifeguards to monitor the visitors on the 3-km-long beach stretch.
Stall owners say they have always been keeping a watch on the crowd, but it is only recently that the police have sought their help. Pramod Patil, who has been running a vada pav stall at Aksa for 25 years, said: “We can identify the dangerous spots and as soon as we see someone approaching those areas, we rush in to rescue him.”
Patil claims to have saved over 25 people from drowning.
Rajnikant Mashelkar, who has been deployed as senior lifeguard at the beach for the last 13 years, admits that without the help of the locals they are helpless. “In case someone is drowning, the lifeguard rushes into the sea with a rope. On most occasions, the locals follow us with lifeboys,” said Mashelkar.
The stall owners, most of them are residents of nearby Aksa village, are on the beach from 8 am to 9 pm.
Laxman Mhatre (53) who has been selling aerated drinks at the beach for 25 years, said: “On many occasions, we get into heated arguments with people who do not pay heed to our warnings.”