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Mumbai: Summer’s here, but not enough pools to dip in

Updated on: 26 March,2022 08:12 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Prajakta Kasale |

BMC pools not taking new members, private spaces make hay; wait till April 1, say officials

Mumbai: Summer’s here, but not enough pools to dip in

People enjoy swimming at the civic pool at Shivaji Park, Dadar, on Friday. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

Even as swimming pools were allowed to open from February 1, Mumbaikars rue that civic swimming pools are not accepting new memberships, forcing many to go to private pools where the fees are five times higher. BMC officials said new memberships will start from April 1, and cited a new fee structure as reason for delay.

There has been a demand for swimming pool membership, especially in view of the summer. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has five swimming pools in the city—at Shivaji Park, Kandivli, Dahisar, Chembur and Ghatkopar. However, the Ghatkopar one has been closed since 2016 because of a leakage. The pool will now undergo renovation and is likely to open after two or three years.

‘Looking at private pools now’

“The BMC’s olympic-size swimming pool at Chembur is just seven minutes away from our home. My children, aged 9 and 11, are fond of swimming but were stuck at home for two years. So when I heard that the pools were opening, I went to get membership the very next day. There was a long queue and after inquiry I realised that new memberships were not open yet,” said Pradnya Hattangadi. She added that she would now look for a private club where the membership fee is around Rs 1 lakh.

The issue has also made rounds on social media. A twitterratti @thekaipullai posted, “Is there a place in Mumbai that allows swimming memberships? All the BMC pools are not accepting new members. (sic)” Vinay Chitale, a regular member of the Shivaji Park pool, said that many of his friends inquired about membership after watching his videos on Instagram, but he could not help as the process is yet to start.

Fees revision

Vidyadhar Modak, a senior citizen and member of Shivaji Park swimming pool, said that his membership was valid till July in 2020, but the pool had to close after the first lockdown. “When the pools reopened last month, they gave us an extension for the remaining time of our yearly membership,” said Modak. Citing that the membership fee increases by 10 per cent every year, he said, “We submitted a written request to the mayor and the civic commissioner on March 7 to not increase the fee as the pool was shut for over two years.”

A BMC official said, “Every year the fee of all the services including pools and theatres increases by 10 per cent. This year, many have requested us to not increase it as pools were closed for two years. So, we are in the process of revising the fee structure, which is why we are not accepting new members yet. It is so that they can benefit from the revised structure.”

As per BMC’s existing fee structure, the fees at the Olympic-size swimming pools at Shivaji Park, Chembur and Kandivli were at Rs 9,600 which would have increased to Rs 10,560 from April 1, as per the old structure. The normal pool at Dahisar had a yearly fee of Rs 6,660. “As per the revised structure, which is yet to be approved, the fees for Olympic-sized pools will be below Rs 10,000 and normal pools will have a fee around Rs 6,000. Even the concession for seniors, students and disabled may be hiked from 30 to 50 per cent,” said the official.

More pools to come up soon

“We have a limited number of civic pools, but several new pools are currently under construction and will open in a month or two. We know people are waiting for new memberships and the process is on to start it soon,” said Prabhat Rahangdale, deputy municipal commissioner of the disaster management unit and in-charge of pools.

The BMC has started construction of six new pools in Worli Hill reservoir; Chacha Nehru Garden, Malad; Indira Gandhi Manoranjan Maidan, Andheri West; Kondivita in Andheri East; Ramabai Ambedkar Nagar in Govandi; and Gyandhara Garden in Dahisar. The Dahisar and Malad swimming pools may reopen within the next two months.

Percentage of fee hike each year

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