For swimming enthusiasts in and around Dadar, there is another long, looming tunnel after a glimpse of light.
The Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Olympic Swimming pool in Dadar, which opened on Thursday after 16 months, will be shut again after three months. And this time, for two long years.
Reason: The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), instead of going in for a complete overhaul of the 50-metre Olympic size pool, only undertook ‘minor repairs’ at a cost of Rs 50 lakh. As a result, there are still leakages in the pool and the tiles are loosely fit despite the pool being shut from November 2005.
Mayor Shubha Raul, who had pushed for its reopening, admitted many issues remained to be sorted out. “Since it is a summer vacation, it was necessary to open the pool at the earliest. However, the officials have assured me that the leakage would be sorted out at soon,” she said.
But swimmers are livid over the imminent closure. “This is joke played by the BMC on us as swimming for three months would hardly serve any purpose,” said Naved Mithaiwala, who has been a member of the pool from the last five years. “No wonder, sports in this country has suffered.”
However Assistant Commissioner Ashwin Khanolkar said reopening the pool was a challenge and the members should enjoy swimming for the next three months. “We have detected the leakage and would consequently plug it. Instead of thinking of the future, members should enjoy the facility offered to them presently,” said Khanolkar.
The pool has about 8,000 members. A few Hindustan Times spoke to said they could not notice any difference post repairs.
Members are also unhappy at the swimming timings: 6 am-10 am for men and only an hour – 10:30 am to 11:30 am – for women. “These timings are very inconvenient and should be extended immediately,” said Manisha Vaidya (36) who comes to swim with her daughter Priyanka.
Of the seven pools run by the BMC, four are currently open while the rest are shut for repairs. Of the four, one has been privatised by leasing it to Shiv Sena leader Subhash Desai. “I am amazed by the manner in which the pools are being shut down. This will only affect the middle and poor classes as they cannot afford private pools,” said national swimming coach Subodh Dhakne.