Yet another life lost at a BMC swimming pool in Mumbai

Adding to the city’s abysmal record of shoddy safety measures and management at swimming pools, which mid-day has highlighted regularly, a 36-year-old woman drowned at a Vile Parle pool on Tuesday night; while pool authorities claim that she went back in after everybody had left the area, her family rubbishes the claim, blames absence of lifeguards and staff

Another swimmer at a public pool died due to drowning, adding to the city’s ignominious record of shoddy safety measures for swimmers at its swimming pools. A 36-year-old woman drowned at a trust-run swimming pool in Vile Parle (East) on Tuesday, on the day her summer training camp was to conclude.

Also read: BMC pools where deaths took place getting step-motherly treatment?

The pool at Prabodhankar Thackeray Sports Complex where Shreya Bhosale (above) drowned. While the BMC owns the land on which the pool is built, it is managed by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Smarak Samiti Trust, run by former mayor Ramesh Prabhoo
The pool at Prabodhankar Thackeray Sports Complex where Shreya Bhosale (inset) drowned. While the BMC owns the land on which the pool is built, it is managed by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Smarak Samiti Trust, run by former mayor Ramesh Prabhoo

The victim, identified as Shreya Bhosale (36), drowned at the swimming pool in the Prabodhankar Thackeray Sports Complex. While the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) owns the land on which the pool is build, its operation is managed by a trust, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Smarak Samiti Trust, which is run by former mayor Ramesh Prabhoo.

Shreya Bhosale
Shreya Bhosale

Tuesday evening was supposed to be last day of the summer training programme that offered swimming lessons. The batch, whose timings are from 8.15 pm to 9 pm, had 80 students from the ages of six years to senior citizens. Being the last day, the session time was extended by 10 minutes.

Also read: 'All's well at BMC swimming pools where deaths took place'

Nilesh Tapase, who works at the swimming pool, claimed, “After the batch ended, all the women, including Shreya, came out of the pool. Since it was the last day and people usually take suggestions from their trainers, Shreya spoke to the lifeguard for a short while and went to the changing room. She later went back to the pool.”

Also read: BMC swimming pools drowning in apathy

The land on which the Prabodhankar Thackeray swimming pool in Vile Parle (East) is built, is owned by the BMC, but the pool is run by the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Smarak Samiti Trust
The land on which the Prabodhankar Thackeray swimming pool in Vile Parle (East) is built, is owned by the BMC, but the pool is run by the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Smarak Samiti Trust

According to Tapase, the pool was empty and all students and lifeguards were in their respective changing rooms. Ten minutes later, however, Shreya’s body was found in the pool. “A cleaner found a body at the bottom of the pool. At that time, he did not know whose body it was and frantically started calling out for help,” said Tapase, adding that the body was found at a depth of almost six feet.

The lifeguards immediately pulled her out and started giving Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). On noticing no improvement, they rushed her to the nearby Baba Saheb Gawde Hospital in their private car. Shreya was declared dead on admission.

Negligence
However, Sunil Bhosle, Shreya’s brother-in-law and a constable with the Mumbai police, refuted Tapase’s claim and said Shreya had died even before the session ended. “While Shreya’s time of death is mentioned as 9.05 pm, the summer camp ended at 9.10 pm, which means she was inside the pool with everybody else.

Secondly, there was no lifeguard and neither did the trainers check if everybody had checked out of the pool. Had there been sufficient staff available, somebody could’ve saved my sister-in-law,” Bhosle told mid-day. Bhosle also questioned how Shreya could have come out of the changing room when the entrance to the pool is locked after everyone has left.

The pool authorities also failed to answer how many people were employed to look after the safety of the 80 swimmers who were present in the pool. Shreya worked in the HR department of a private firm, while her husband Sushant is a businessman. The couple has an eight-year-old son.

Trust says
Arvind Prabhoo, son of Ramesh Prabhoo and a trustee of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Smarak Samiti, said, “We did all we could to save her. She was given CPR and even rushed to the hospital immediately. We will be able to know what exactly happened only through police.” According to Prabhoo, the lease period is for 30 years, 18 of which have passed.

Tapase added that the swimming pool is equipped with a stretcher, a van, 10 lifeguards who also double up as trainers, floats, rings, an emergency oxygen cylinder as well as an on-call doctor. Dr Bhalerao Patil, a doctor at Cooper Hospital where the body was taken for a post-mortem, called it a “clear-cut case of drowning.”

Also read: Following student's death, all BMC swimming pools to get doctors

“The woman died due to asphyxia (deficiency in supply of oxygen) and there were no other injuries that could’ve led to her death,” he stated. Despite several attempts, Shantaram Shinde, BMC joint commissioner, could not be reached for comment.

Pool deaths
>> Kanchan Rode (21), an MCom student, allegedly drowned at the Ghatkopar civic pool on April 3. There was no medical assistance or an ambulance available and the family said it took nearly 20 minutes to get a vehicle to take Kanchan to a hospital

>> Sunil Rajaram Parab (60) fell unconscious in the Shivaji Park civic swimming pool in February last year. He was taken to Hinduja Hospital, where he later died

>> A 12-year-old boy died at the swimming pool of Country Club in Kandivli

>> An 8-year-old boy had drowned at the Shahaji Raje Sports Complex pool in Andheri in 2010

Case registered
The pool authorities have been booked for causing death by negligence. “An FIR has been registered against Sahadev aka Sandeep Arjun Newarkar (35), pool manager, and Vishal Dharmaraj Tiwari (28), head coach of the swimming pool, under Section 304A (causing death by negligence) of the Indian Penal Code,” said a police officer from the Vile Parle police station.

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