It’s a post-rainy evening at Gaddani Beach and 50-year-old lifeguard Feroz is whistling and making sure that the visitors aren’t going deep into the sea. In 2008, the appearance of rare Spinner dolphins at Gaddani beach puzzled many tsunami experts. But, 50-year-old lifeguard, Feroz considers himself a hero who rescued the dolphins. He recalls the incident and terms it one of the ‘golden’ moments he has encountered in his 25 years’ experience of working as a lifeguard.
‘’With the first drop of rain, my other two friends have disappeared and I am alone at the beach to look after the visitors not crossing the danger zone,’’ Feroz says. Unlike the momentous memories the 50-year-old lifeguard has stored in his emotional account, there are many untoward incidents which have left engraved memories too. “It was an unfortunate day back in 2018 when we [lifeguards] were informed that four people, at the end of the shore southwards, had drowned. We rushed to ascertain the situation, however, we could not save any,” recalls Feroz.
According to the data available with local authorities, in different incidents, almost 15 people have lost their lives between 2017 and 2019 at Gaddani beach.
Gaddani Beach is located near Hub River and Cape Monze in Gaddani Town, district Lasbela. The picnic beach of Gaddani stretches over almost 7 to 8 km which is a long area and needs an arduous venture to look after visitors especially during the events such as Eid and other national holidays. People, from across Balochistan and Sindh, throng into the beach during such events. Gaddani Beach is one of the attractive tourism sites in Balochistan owing to its natural and physical features. However, the untapped beauty of the site remains vulnerable to human being’s natural attitude of ignorance. Unawareness of visitors’ about how to keep the beach clean as well as the government’s lack of attention to the tourist beach is contributing to the vulnerability of the Gaddani Beach.
Lack of facilities available to visitors
Sarwar Ali travels from Karachi to Gaddani Beach and it’s his fourth visit to the site. He is attracted by the natural beauty of the site. The site, for Sarwar Ali, is more soliciting as compared to the beaches in Karachi. “Every beach has its own taste of beauty. Gaddani Beach, however, is different from others,” he told while discussing with Balochistan Voices. “The water as compared to beaches in Karachi is clean here.” I am satisfied with the performance of lifeguards as I can spot them everywhere on the beach, Sarwar said.
“The beach is beautiful. However, visitors face problems because the site lacks facilities for visitors’ resting. There are no washrooms available at the beach. Most of the visitors come with their families and face problems due to unavailability of basic facilities,” complained one of the visitors. Non-availability of food points also causes trouble as the commodities are sold on high prices, he said.
Gaddani Beach lies at a distance of more than 20 km from Hub. The road that connects Gaddani not only facilitates the visitors to reach the beach, it also helps the politicians during general elections to reach the masses of their constituency. Gaddani town makes the part of PB-49 Lasbela 1 from where Saleh Bhootani, elder brother of Mr. Aslam Bhootani, had won the seat in general elections 2018. The thoroughfare which connects RCD N-25 with Gaddani town mirrors political negligence too.
“We fear when to drive on the road that links main RCD with Gaddani town. It’s broken and needs careful driving. Due to not being wide enough, we fear accidents,” complained another visitor. “During our journey, especially in a rainy season, we have to stay for hours until water puddles at the road get dried.”
The wooden huts are in bad condition and we pay for the four to five hundred rupees as rent to administration. The beach lacks basic facilities of washrooms which is troublesome for families who visit the beach from Sindh, said Ilham.
Upgrading the beach as a tourist resort
A recent trend of tourism has been observed in Balochistan after various picnic places have been tapped by the visitors mostly traveling from Karachi. The places like Kund Malir and Mola Chottok are two such places which have attracted a huge number of picnickers in recent years. However, the transportation system available to tourists is still private. Like Kund Malir, Gaddani Beach also has a mountainous terrain and a widely stretched beach. The blissful view of the sea from the top of the mountainous terrain remains mesmerising for the visitors but it lacks proper facilities to help the visitors reach the top of the small mountainous rocks.
Abdul Manan and his friend travel from Baldia Town Karachi for fishing. Abdul Manan says he chooses Gaddani beach for his weekly fishing because the beach is safe in terms of theft. However, the barricade, whereupon Manan stands and makes his fishing hook into the sea, is a slippery stone which can lead to a haphazard incident anytime!
“We are not disbursed funds for tourism. Whatever up-gradation one can observe is the self-based efforts of the Municipal Corporation Gaddani,” said Tehsil Municipal Officer, Mr. Syed Salim Shah. Mr. Shah explains that it’s very difficult to maintain the Beach and increase tourism facilities as the work needs funds which Municipal Corporation doesn’t have at the moment. The revenue that we generate from parking charges is not sufficient to cover up the expenses of our employees. “On special events such as Eids and national holidays, we have to increase the number of lifeguards given the increase in number of tourists. We keep four to five extra lifeguards whom we pay wages per day,” said Mr. Shah.
CSR: A term too much said than done practically
Not surprisingly, adjacent to the Gaddani Beach, is located the world’s third-largest ship breaking yard. Annually, the industry contributes almost 12 billion rupees as tax to the national treasury. The industry has a direct labor force of around 10,000 workers whereas it is indirect life sustenance for more or less 200,000 people. Though the Rural Health Care Centre, which is so far a gift provided to the town by industrialists, has got upgraded, yet it is located almost 4 km away from the beach which is not possibly helpful in case of an emergency.
“We frequently conduct meetings with entire ‘industrial family’ but meetings have been of no avail so far. The industrialists promise to issue funds as part of their CSR, for which they are bound to as per the industrial laws, but following the meetings everything settles down to normalcy as things had been going on before the meetings,” regrets Mr. Shah.
“We have developed many plans for making Gaddani beach a proper tourist resort. Even I compiled the data and presented the blueprint of the plan visually as well. But nothing beneficial we have availed from our efforts so far. Every plan and effort is a pile of papers lying under the layers of dust,” said an official on the condition of anonymity.
“We have been engaged in maintaining the road and have developed a public park for the families. However, we have some forthcoming meetings with industrialists along with Deputy Commissioner and I would again raise the issue and hope for a better response this time,” concluded Mr. Shah.
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