What is alarming is that since 2018 the number of deaths has increased. While seven people died in 2015, 2019 and 2020, nine people died in 2021 and Talakad has witnessed eight tourist deaths so far this year. Official records indicate that there were four and two deaths respectively in 2017 and 2017. Tourists flock to Talakad, especially during weekends. Footsteps increased after covid restrictions eased.
The sandy shores of Talakad where 40 temples, many of which are immersed in the sand, are a major attraction for nature lovers. The tourist site, located 49 km from Mysuru, attracts tourists from Bangalore, neighboring Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
Many young tourists go swimming in the river. Some were caught in the whirlpools of water and drowned. Some have fallen into the water during coracle boat rides.
Talakadu Forest has been declared a sanctuary by the Forest Department, attracting more tourists. The forest department has collected an annual collection of Rs 20 lakh from visitors every year.
Some young people come early in the morning on Sundays and public holidays and bathe in the river. Some of them drowned and most of the cases were reported near pillars of construction bridges, as this location was identified as a deep water location.
“The Forest Department has deployed two rangers to guard the riverbank, to prevent visitors from going for a swim. Despite posting signs warning young people not to bathe in the river, incidents of young people drowning are continuing,” T Narasipura Range Forest Officer told STOI.
The forest department has sent a proposal to higher authorities to deploy more personnel to guard the riverbank to prevent such incidents, she said.
Talakadu Police Station Sub-Inspector Arunkumar told STOI that his department is deploying two officers to Talakad to monitor visitors.
“Yet there have been incidents of young people consuming alcohol in forest areas after deceiving police and forest department officials. Whenever drowning incidents occur, local coracle operators have become good Samaritans and have saved many people,” he said.