Mumbai: Flood selfies an offence, now

Mumbai: No more selfies with disasters as the backdrop, the police have said. During the incessant rains and floods over the weekend, many citizens played with their lives, throwing caution to the winds and taking selfies despite having been told to stay away from the sea.

On Sunday, at Marine Drive, a police patrol van was seen making announcements asking people to stay away from the promenade, where many had come, toddlers in tow, to take selfies, even though the authorities had issued a 'red alert' the previous day.

Now, it has come to the point where it has become imperative to issue a written order -- it is an offence to take selfies during floods. Like in Mumbai, there were heavy rains in Gangapur and other catchment areas in Nashik.

Along with the Godavari river, the Nandini and several other waterbodies had flooded. Once the water began flowing to lower areas, citizens came out in large numbers to take selfies and photographs.

Nashik residents came with their families and crowded areas near the flooded river at Karanja, Gharpure Ghat, Sarkarwada, Saraf Bazar, Dahi Bridge, Malegaon Stand and Ramwadi.

There were toddlers and children among the crowds. Even though police pushed them away, they kept returning. There were crowds at Holkar and Kannamwar bridges on Sunday, throwing traffic into disarray. Floodwaters had reached dangerously close to the bridge.

At a time when the bridges should have been closed to all manner of traffic, it was jammed with human beings. It was not just these two bridges, the public similarly thronged every small bridge in the city.

Treating the natural calamity as though it were a day on the beach, people could be seen wading into flood waters, endangering their lives. In Pune, amidst the flood-like situation in the district, traffic police on Monday, appealed to citizens to stop gathering on bridges as it disrupts traffic.

"Pune Traffic Police appeals to all citizens to avoid visiting bridges to see the water. It is creating trouble for traffic and also risking their own lives by taking selfies and photos," the appeal by District Information Commissioner read. Seven bridges in the district have been closed for traffic, the appeal added.

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and local police have been carrying out rescue and relief operations across the district after flooding due to swollen rivers and days of incessant rain.

Earlier on Monday, NDRF rescued 115 people from flood-affected areas in Baner region of the district. On Sunday, NDRF said it had rescued 50 patients and 120 staff members from a flooded hospital in Hinjewadi area.

Over the weekend, there were people in cars, manouevering their vehicles to get the best shot, turning a blind eye to security warnings. Police were unable to control the crowds and finally,

the deputy commissioner sought permission from Commissioner Vishwas Nangre Patil to clamp Section 144 under the Indian Penal Code in Pune City, thereby disallowing the assembly of more than four people.

During floods and other emergency situations, police are considering banning people from taking selfies on bridges, riverbanks, waterfalls, swimming in the floods, jumping into floods, crowding around flooded spots and creating obstacles in the way of disaster relief.

The rule is being enforced to prevent rowdy behaviour, posing an impediment to authorities providing relief or shifting people from dangerous structures.

Police stations have been given the power to register an offence under Section 188 of IPC, for disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant.

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