Days after girl drowned, BMC pools in Mumbai yet to get doctors

A circular directing that at least two doctors should be appointed at each civic pool was sent last year; the 21-year-old MCom student died in the Ghatkopar pool on Friday, but BMC is yet to take any action

Days after a 21-year-old allegedly died by drowning in a Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) swimming pool, the civic body is yet to appoint a single doctor at any of its six pools. This, despite a circular for the appointment of at least two doctors at every pool having been issued last year in the wake of a similar incident.

Kanchan Rode’s father said there was no doctor or ambulance at the Ghatkopar civic swimming pool and it took 20 minutes to find a vehicle to take her to a hospital
Kanchan Rode’s father said there was no doctor or ambulance at the Ghatkopar civic swimming pool and it took 20 minutes to find a vehicle to take her to a hospital

On Friday, Kanchan Rode (21), an MCom student at University of Mumbai drowned at the Ghatkopar Lions Swimming Pool and civic officials alleged she suffered an epileptic attack. However, her father, Suryakant Rode, refuted these charges, saying it was lack of timely medical aid that killed his daughter.

“When Kanchan was pulled out of the water, there was no medical assistance available. There was no doctor or even an ambulance to take her to a hospital. We had to request a private vehicle to take us there, during which we lost 20 minutes. This is why appointing doctors at swimming pools is essential,” he said.

Suryakant further said his daughter was learning to swim and had not mastered it completely. Yet, the trainer put her in water without a floatation aid or rubber tubes. Reacting to BMC’s charges that it was an epileptic attack that caused her to drown, he said that Kanchan had suffered an attack two years ago and it had never happened since.

“She was taking medication to prevent such attacks. Our family doctor had given her clearance to swim. The post-mortem report (mid-day has a copy) does not show epilepsy as the cause of death,” he added. The Rodes are also planning to write to the police.

Dragging their feet
mid-day had reported about a death in the civic pool at Shivaji Park in February last year, wherein a 60-year-old died after falling unconscious at the facility (see box). After this, the BMC had issued a circular that two doctors should be appointed at every civic swimming pool. Not a single pool has a doctor yet, though they have lifeguards and trainers.

There are two trainers at the Ghatkopar pool, out of which one was present when Kanchan drowned. Devendra Amberkar, BMC opposition leader from the Congress, told mid-day, “I had demanded that doctors be provided at civic pools after repeated deaths due to drowning were being seen.

BMC authorities had even issued a circular regarding the same, but there has been no implementation whatsoever.” A manager at one of the six swimming pools confirmed that no pool had any doctor. “During such incidents, the absence of a doctor can cost someone their life,” he said.

BMC speak
SVR Srinivas, additional municipal commissioner, said, “The girl had epilepsy but her parents did not inform pool authorities. Had they known, she would not have been allowed to swim.” He further added, “I don’t have an idea about doctors available at swimming pools. I will get the information and act accordingly.”

Previous deaths

>> On February 19, 2014, Sunil Rajaram Parab (60) died after falling unconscious at the Shivaji Park civic swimming pool. Parab was found unconscious at 8.10 am and a doctor, who is a member of the pool, administered chest compressions. He was later taken to Hinduja Hospital, where he died some time later

>> In 2010, an 8-year-old boy died at the Shahaji Raje Sports Complex pool in Andheri due to drowning

BMC pools
The BMC has six swimming pools in the city: 
>> Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Olympic swimming pool (Shivaji Park) 
>> Ghatkopar Lions swimming pool 
>> Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel swimming pool (Kandivli)
>> General Arunkumar Vaidya swimming pool (Chembur)
>> Priyadarshini Indira Gandhi Sports Complex swimming pool (Mulund) 
>> Shahaji Raje Sports Complex swimming pool (Andheri).

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