Ganesh Chaturthi

Mumbai: Rs 1.24 cr and 17 yrs later, varsity pool in Kalina lies abandoned

30 May,2023 07:34 AM IST |  Mumbai  |  Dipti Singh

Snakes have currently made the pool their home, posing a danger to visitors and inhabitants of nearby slums; it is also a haven for mosquitoes

The pool was supposed to be completed in 24 months. Pic/Ashish Raje

In yet another example of neglect of infrastructure and waste of funds, an Olympic-sized (50 metres) swimming pool was never completed, and lies abandoned on the Mumbai University's Kalina campus. The project began 17 years ago, in 2006. Besides serving as a haven for mosquitoes, the pool is also said to be home to snakes, making it dangerous for visitors and nearby slum dwellers.

Other defunct projects

This is not the only project lying defunct on the Kalina campus. Many such infrastructures built on the Kalina campus as part of its development and biodiversity projects are now in ruins.

A lake that was included in the biodiversity park used to have fish and other marine creatures like turtles, but is now half-dried and covered in algae. A rose garden that in 2010 hosted the prestigious All India Rose Convention, is now one dried-up corner on the campus. A tennis court developed with the help of the All India Tennis Association (AITA) is now entangled in a legal case and lying unused. mid-day had written about these projects lying defunct in its November 24, 2022, edition.

In 2009 an audit was conducted by the office of the state government's principal accountant general (audit) into the accounts of the university, and it found holes in the way the institution went about constructing the pool.

The Olympic-sized swimming pool was part of the varsity's ambitious project of a sports complex inside the campus. While the sports complex was completed in 2011-12, the university management failed to complete the swimming pool. In a reply to the auditors, the university management then cited a paucity of funds for the delay. However, the auditors then found procedural lapses.

The project was found to have multiple flaws, according to the 2009 inspection report of the audit exercise conducted between July and August 2009. Of the total Rs 1.31 crore that had been allocated for the pool project, the audit report noted that by March 2009, the contractor had been paid Rs 1.24 crore.

The auditors also noted that while building a filtration plant was part of the pool's initial scope of work, it was not present when the estimates were drawn up. Even after 17 years the filtration plant is still absent.

‘Readied after protest'

Sudhakar Tamboli, former senate member of the university said, "Whenever the subject of the sports complex was discussed in the senate meeting, we questioned the administration about the defunct swimming pool. We even organised a protest in 2014. At that time the management opened the pool, but instead of Olympic size, it was reduced to the size of a pool in a resort. No safety measures were in place, and neither was the filtration plant constructed. Within a few weeks, the pool closed again and now it is home to snakes and a breeding spot for mosquitoes and other insects. They have just wasted the funds."

An official from the engineering department of the varsity said, "We do not have much of the status as the project was passed in 2006, funds were allocated between 2007 and 2008 and many of us were not there at that time. We will still look into the matter."

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