Mumbai: BMC swimming pools drowning in apathy
Despite deaths at pools in Ghatkopar and Shivaji Park, safety measures are shoddy there are no doctors or ambulances, stretchers are torn, and lifeguards are busy teaching people how to swim
While you may be looking forward to taking a cool dip in the swimming pool to beat the sweltering heat of the summer, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) seems to be least bothered about the safety of the members of their swimming pools, even after two people have died in two pools since last year.
mid-day has reported on both the deaths. Last month, 21-year-old Kanchan Rode allegedly drowned in the Ghatkopar swimming pool. Her father had alleged that the pool lacked a medical officer or an ambulance to get her quickly to a hospital, and that had led o her death.
In February last year, a 60-year-old man had collapsed beside the Shivaji Park swimming pool and died in the hospital. Members had also alleged then that had there been a medical officer, he could’ve been saved by giving proper first aid.
The civic body had also convened a meeting to appoint medical officers at all their pools (‘All swimming pools to get doctors, April 12). mid-day decided to check on the current state of affairs at both pools. Worryingly, things seem to have not changed at all.
Shivaji Park swimming pool
The Mahatma Gandhi Memorial swimming pool in Shivaji Park has nearly 14,000 members. The daily count of people is about 500-600. There is a baby pool for kids, a warm-up pool, a diving area and an Olympic-size pool. Yet, there is no medical officer here and the stretcher that is supposed to ferry a patient to an ambulance is in tatters.
The BMC-run pool at Shivaji Park has nearly 14,000 members, but the lone stretcher to ferry people in case of an emergency is falling apart. Pics/Satyajit Desai
Moreover, lifeguards at this pool are busy imparting swimming lessons. When this reporter asked them why, the lifeguards said they had been asked to double up as trainers. Members, however, are a worried lot. Vijay Vichare, a regular at the pool said, “The pool is packed in April and May.
Lifeguards simply can’t manage both jobs of training people and saving lives.” The first-aid box which is meant to be used to provide primary treatment to a victim only has bandage and anti-septic cream, which are of no use in drowning cases. The floats, too, are in poor condition.
The stretcher at the Shivaji Park pool which has 14,000 members is in tatters
A BMC employee, who refused to be identified, said, “Around 40-50 people come here to learn swimming. However, the floats are in a bad condition and are too few in number.” “We are waiting for a tender to be passed. Once it is passed, we will have new floats as well as all the other essentials,” said a BMC official.
Another daily swimmer, Dhananjay Kuveskar, added, “Every year, the pool fees are increased by 10 per cent. This year the yearly fees have shot up to Rs 5,000, but there is not a single medical officer or ambulance to ferry a patient to a hospital.”
>> No medical officer or ambulance
>> Stretcher is torn
>> Floats are in bad state and also in shortage
>> Lifeguards are busy training people
>> First-aid box is ill-equipped for emergencies
Ghatkopar swimming pool
The first-aid box at Ghatkopar swimming pool (below) only has an anti-septic solution and bandage, which is of no use in case someone is rescued from drowning. Pics/Atul Kamble
At this facility, there is a stretcher, but no ambulance or a medical officer. The first-aid box leaves a lot to be desired it only has cotton and an anti-septic cream. The pool also has four lifeguard-cum-trainers, though they are busy doing the latter.
Two of the trainers are dedicated to teaching women members. A BMC official said, “At least 500 people come to swim here daily. We need a minimum of seven lifeguards, but the BMC has not taken any necessary steps.”
>> No medical officer
>> First-aid kit only has cotton and anti-septic cream
>> Only four lifeguards for 500 people who come here every day
Shantaram Shinde, joint commissioner, BMC, said, “I will immediately look into the matter and, on Monday, I will discuss the issue with the concerned authorities. This (issue) will be solved at the earliest.”
The number of swimmers who come to the Shivaji Park and Ghatkopar pools every day
Yearly fees collected from the 14,000 members of the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial swimming pool at Shivaji Park