Ensuring Safety around Lakes and Eco-Tourism Destinations of Udaipur: A Crucial Need


Ensuring Safety around Lakes and Eco-Tourism Destinations of Udaipur: A Crucial Need

Udaipur's natural attractions, despite their alluring beauty, pose risks like drowning, wildlife encounters, falling off cliffs, etc. Recent incidents underline the need for improved safety measures, including better signages and rescue protocols, and means to safeguard visitors...

 
Udaipur Eco Destination Safety
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Enjoying nature through activities like wildlife watching, nature walks, trekking, cycling tours, lake visits, and road trips during the monsoon season and even otherwise can be truly delightful. Udaipur is considered one of the best places for these nature-related adventures. However, it is important to remember that while nature is beautiful, it also poses its own dangers, if proper safety measures are not observed or risks are ignored and not mitigated. 

Udaipur has numerous beautiful destinations within the city and its surroundings. However, there are significant concerns regarding safety measures and associated risks in these areas. On Friday, June 28, two separate incidents resulted in tragic death, both due to drowning, at different locations - one at Fateh Sagar Lake and the other at Gangu Kund. A few days earlier, two more fatalities occurred due to drowning at Gangu Kund.  Recently, a teenager also lost his life while picnicking with his family at Shivalik Dam on the Gogunda Road. Last monsoon, another individual also met with a fatal accident at Shivalik Dam. 

These incidents underscore the lack of awareness regarding the risks associated with these water bodies, where negligence can tragically lead to fatal consequences. It is evident that a significant number of drownings occur in natural and unsupervised water bodies such as ponds, rivers, lakes, and dams. The inherent dangers are often not visible to the observer. Many are unaware that water conditions can change due to tides and uneven riverbeds.

Udaipur, famously known as the City of Lakes, is home to many beautiful and alluring water bodies, including Fateh Sagar Lake, Lake Pichola, Swaroop Sagar and Badi Lake among others. Swimming in these lakes is a common activity among locals and visitors alike and this has been the genesis of Udaipur for decades. Recently, these sites have been under the scanner following several drowning incidents. Despite recent heatwave conditions in Udaipur, Fateh Sagar Lake, in particular, attracts many swimmers in the mornings, both young and old. It raises the question: Are there any adequate safety measures in place at these locations?

Police often warn people not to swim in these water bodies during unfavourable weather conditions or when other hazards are present. Rescue teams are deployed when fatalities occur in these lakes. However, the concern remains: Do these rescue teams arrive only after incidents have already happened, rather than being proactive in preventing such incidents beforehand?

Apart from the lakes within the city area, there are much frequented water bodies in the upcountry areas of Udaipur, namely Jaisamand, Jogi Talab, Madar, Nayla Talab, Udaisagar, Lakhavali Talab, Thoor Ki Pal, Baagheri Ka Naka, Alsigarh, Amarchandiya, Sai Dam, Nandeshwar, Purohiton Ka Talab, etc. These big and small lakes are popular spots for picnickers and nature enthusiasts. During the monsoon season, these places become visually delightful, attracting picnickers and swimmers alike. Visitors come here for picnics and frequently swim in these water bodies without the presence of security measures like signages or guards to alert them of the potential dangers. 

When it comes to eco-tourism destinations in Udaipur, the list is extensive, featuring several major spots where tourists and locals enjoy road trips, trekking, cycling, wildlife watching, and nature walks. Some notable locations include Kodiyat, Ubeshwar Mahadev Ji, Jaisamand, Sajjangarh, Peepliya, Popalti, Alsigarh, Kumbhalgarh, Sita Mata Sanctuary among others. However, these places also pose massive risks such as encounters with wildlife, challenging terrain and steep heights. Local media often report incidents where individuals fall from mountains while filming reels or accidentally drown in rivers and dams due to slipping. 

Effective signage is essential for raising awareness about potential dangers in specific locations. It serves as a vital tool in informing visitors about risks such as rough terrains, wildlife presence, or water hazards. Despite the installation of signs in various places, many individuals tend to overlook or ignore them, potentially putting themselves at risk due to lack of awareness. Improving signage visibility and content could significantly enhance visitor safety by ensuring important information is noticed and understood.

Recently, four new eco-tourism places have opened in Udaipur: Butterfly Park, Children's Park, Luv Kush Vatika, and Nagar Van Udhyan (Valley of Flowers) for adventure activities. These locations offer great opportunities for nature enthusiasts, but there is a crucial need for clear guidelines and security measures. Last year, Shikha Saxena, Deputy Director of the Tourism Department, sent a letter to the Forest Department emphasizing the importance of constructing proper roads leading to Sajjangarh and installing signboards marking 'No Selfie Points' at regular intervals. 

Just two days ago, the Udaipur Development Authority (UDA) initiated the development of Nehru Garden, located amidst Fatehsagar Lake, into a themed park, with a significant portion of the work already completed. This park, situated in the middle of Fatehsagar Lake, is undeniably beautiful and is expected to attract both tourists and locals alike. Access to the park is exclusively by boat, and wearing life jackets during the boat ride is mandatory. However, questions remain about rescue arrangements in case of emergencies on the shores of this garden, situated in the middle of the lake.

When questioned by the Udaipur Times team about safety measures concerning Nehru Garden, UDA Commissioner Rahul Jain mentioned that rescue boats will be available alongside the ferries transporting people to and from the garden. Similar to safety briefings provided before boarding flights, passengers will receive instructions before boarding the boats.

While Udaipur's natural beauty and eco-tourism attractions continue to charm visitors, more measures should be taken to increase safety standards of the city. From improved signage and designated rescue points to awareness campaigns, addressing these issues is vital to safeguarding everyone who explores the city. As the city expands its tourism offerings, including new attractions, safety guidelines will ensure that visitors can fully enjoy their experiences without any accidents. 

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