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

Apr 29, 2015, 08:30 IST | Sachin Unhalekar

While the Ghatkopar, Shivaji Park pools lack doctors, ambulances and enough lifeguards, those in Mulund and Andheri have all these facilities, since they are run by a special BMC trust

It turns out that the two swimming pools in the city, where two deaths have taken place in as many years, are victims of step-motherly treatment by the BMC. The civic body has six swimming pools in the city, of which one, in Chembur, is undergoing renovation.

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

Doctors, stretchers and the ambulance at the Andheri pool
Doctors, stretchers and the ambulance at the Andheri pool

Of the remaining five, only two pools in Andheri and in Mulund have proper facilities, including lifeguards, ambulances and doctors, while the other three lack them. Is it a coincidence, then, that the two deaths, including that of 21-year-old Kanchan Rode this month, took place in two of the remaining three pools?

Also read: BMC swimming pools drowning in apathy

Incidentally, the pools in Mulund and Andheri are run by a special trust set up by the BMC, which has top officials like the mayor and municipal commissioner serving as trustees, which seems to account for the better facilities available there.

The Mulund swimming pool and an ambulance
The Mulund swimming pool and an ambulance

Officials at the Mulund pool, in fact, told mid-day that they had managed to avert three cases of drowning last year because they had proper lifeguards and medical facilities.

Not interested?
In a series of reports, mid-day has highlighted how, after a 60-year-old man had died in the Shivaji Park swimming pool last year, the BMC had issued a circular directing that medical facilities, including doctors and ambulances, should be provided at every civic pool.

Some of mid-day’s reports on the issue this monthSome of mid-day’s reports on the issue this month
Some of mid-day’s reports on the issue this month

The directive fell on deaf ears and a similar circular was issued again after Kanchan Rode’s death at the Ghatkopar swimming pool earlier this month, with similar results.

After mid-day conducted an audit on these two pools (‘BMC swimming pools drowning in apathy’, April 20) and highlighted that they lack doctors, ambulances, lifeguards and equipment, the BMC finally seemed to shake out of its slumber and decided that the shortcomings would be addressed. The situation is similar at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel swimming pool in Kandivli.

Special treatment
The story is completely different at the civic pools at the Priyadarshini Indira Gandhi Krida Sankul in Mulund and the Shahaji Raje Krida Sankul in Andheri.

The pools are run by the Brihanmumbai Krida and Lalitkala Pratishthan, a trust which has the mayor, leader of opposition, municipal commissioner, additional commissioner and other senior civic officers on the board of trustees.

These swimming pools have ambulances, doctors, proper lifeguards trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and oxygen cylinders. An official at the Andheri swimming pool said, “We have doctors and an ambulance available. The doctors come to the pool on a part-time basis and are available on call during the rest of the day.

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

They get Rs 15,000 as monthly salary. An ambulance is available 24X7. We also have stretchers and lifeguards trained in CPR.” The Mulund swimming pool has also tied up with the Aditi Hospital, which is right outside their gate, and three doctors come to the pool part-time and are available on call.

An ambulance is also available. An official said that they had three incidents last year where swimmers nearly drowned, but they were saved because emergency services were available.

When mid-day spoke to Mayor Snehal Ambekar, House Leader Trushna Vishwasrao and Additional Commissioner S V R Srinivas, they said the necessary facilities will be provided at all the swimming pools. They did not, however, answer why there was such a huge difference in the facilities available at the trust-run pools and the others.

Stark differences

>> While the doctors at the Andheri pool are paid Rs 15,000 per month, the other three pools are unable to get doctors as the BMC is willing to pay them only Rs 3,000 per month

>> An official at the Andheri pool said they they have 15 lifeguards, of which only four train the pool’s members. At the Shivaji Park pool, mid-day had seen only 7 lifeguards, most of whom doubled up as trainers. The Ghatkopar pool only had instructors who had no lifeguard training.

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