Divers make a killing to fish out bodies

Posted: 09/08/2011 in all marine news

Deccan chronicle –

The influx of tourism in Ramanagar — with its many rivers and lakes — has come with associated dangers. At least 70 to 80 people drown in the waters of the Mekedaatu, Sangama, Bommasandra and Chunchi Falls, the Nelligudda tank and Thippagondanahalli reservoir every year, pushing up the demand for expert swimmers from the villages nearby, who, it is alleged, charge up to Rs 25,000 to fish out a body.

The expert swimmers are called in when the police and firemen feel they can do no more to find the bodies and take advantage of the situation, say locals. “They come in teams of eight or 10 and demand Rs 25,000 for each body fished out as it is often involves dangerous work. Families of the victims have no choice but to pay up,” they say.

The police, who sometimes pay the swimmers to help them search for the bodies, however, maintain they don’t overcharge as alleged. Sathanur police sub-inspector Naveen claims the swimmers ask for a reasonable fee considering the risk they take. “No one wants to put their lives in danger, but the swimmers do when searching for the bodies.

They come in only when asked to and are paid by senior officers like myself. We recently gave them Rs 3000 to search for a body and no more,” he says. Sathanur police deals with accidents in Mekedaatu, Sangama, Bommasandra and Chunci Falls which report around 25 cases of drowning every year. Already nearly 12 people have drowned in their waters so far this year.

Mr Naveen is worried that the swimmers may refuse to come to the help of families and the police because of the “unfounded” allegations made against them. “It will be very difficult to carry on without their help. They can always find work in the many fishing camps in the district,” he says.

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