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7,000 people in queue from 3 am!

BMC officials were overwhelmed by the turnout of 7,000 people, who queued up to buy membership forms for the newly renovated BMC pool complex in Dadar

The early bird catches the worm. An overwhelming 7,000 people lined up as early as 3 am yesterday, in order to buy membership forms that would give them access to dips in the newly renovated, state-of-the-art Mahatma Gandhi Smarak Municipal Swimming Pool complex in Dadar. The unprecedented turnout baffled officials. Of the 10,000 available forms, 6,000 have already been sold.


A serpentine queue outside the swimming pool complex in Dadar to buy
the membership forms


The serpentine queue began in front of the pool gate, and stretched on as far as the eye could see.
The 6,000 water babies who managed to procure membership forms have thus staked their claim to use of the 10-lane Olympic-size swimming pool, and the neighbouring cluster of three more pools -- one being a 16-ft deep pool built exclusively for diving, the second being a recreational pool, and the third a shallow one for kids to dip and wade in. The pool complex is also equipped with a spectator's gallery which has a seating capacity of 600. The pools have been under renovation for the past two years.

This means that in the next four days of form-selling process, only 4,000 more forms can be sold. Deputy Municipal Commissioner (Gardens and Security) S Karavande said, "Keeping the capacity of the pool in mind, we had decided to give out 10,000 new memberships. 6,000 forms have already been sold. We expect all the forms to be sold off on the second day itself. We cannot release more forms."


Many women were finding it hard to make their way through

An eager man in the queue said, "I came here at 5 am, and I was surprised to notice that a long line had already formed. I hope I get the form today, or I have to make another trip earlier tomorrow."

Last week, the civic authority completed renewing the memberships of 4,500 old members, which had expired in course of the two-year-long renovation period. Karvande said, "Although their memberships have expired, they are old members of the pool. Their memberships are being renewed," he said.

Rates
The membership cost for those renewing their memberships is Rs 2,800 while the charges to be levied on new members is yet to be fixed, informed Karavande.


A cop had to jump on to the counter to control the crowd.
Pics/Satyajit Desai


Must haves
All aspiring members will have to produce medical certificates and identity proof. Senior citizens who produce a bonafide certificate can avail of a 50 per cent discount on the membership fees.

Watering hole par excellence
Costing Rs 42 crore, the refurbished pool complex has been renovated to achieve Olympic standards. Once inaugurated, it will be closed only on Mondays. On regular days, there will be eight batches of 45 minutes each, during which 15 lifeguards will be deployed at the swimming pools.

Voices
Milind Mestry, Khar resident
I was a member of the pool seven to eight years back. At that time, it was mostly frequented by locals. Despite its poorly maintained condition, many Marathi actors were also seen at the swimming pool. I will definitely retain my membership, as the pools are sure to be a class apart now.

Mukesh Ashiwal, Bandra resident
The swimming pool looks breathtaking. I will definitely buy the form on Wednesday. The membership fee is also quite affordable, in comparison to rates at gymkhanas.

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