Delhi: Sports facilities, state- level

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Swimming pools

One pool for every lakh residents

Sidhartha Roy & Mayank Manohar, Swimming against the tide: Just one pool for every lakh residents of Delhi, May 22, 2018: The Times of India

Delhi Police guidelines for running a swimming pool in Delhi;
The number of municipal pools in Delhi, as in 2018
From: Sidhartha Roy & Mayank Manohar, Swimming against the tide: Just one pool for every lakh residents of Delhi, May 22, 2018: The Times of India

Lack Of Authorised Facilities Resulting In Growth Of Illegal Ones; Norms Widely Flouted

As the summer sun beats down on the capital, a splash in the water is one way Delhiites look to beat the blues. There is one problem, though. There are just not enough swimming pools in the city.

The incident in Burari on Sunday — where two young men drowned in a swimming pool that was functioning without a licence and flouted even the basic guidelines — indicates that in absence of authorised facilities, illegal ones may be mushrooming. The one in Burari, for example, came up on private land and it’s not clear if the owner had followed the long list of norms. While it is the corporation’s job to crack down on swimming pools that are running illegally, no action has been taken in the recent past.

Delhi has a population of nearly 2 crore and the number of authorised swimming pools in the city is just 182. This means, on average, each pool caters to 1.2 lakh people. Swimming pools are authorised to operate by the licencing unit of Delhi Police once they follow a host of mandatory norms. The pools are also supposed to be regularly inspected.

Of the 182 authorised swimming pools, most are out of bounds for the common man. The most number of swimming pools are in schools — both government and private-run — and are not usually open to the general public. Many hotels and private clubs have swimming pools, but these, too, are restricted to club members or hotel guests.

The Delhi Development Authority manages the largest number of swimming pools in Delhi among civic agencies — 17. The number of pools maintained by the municipal bodies is negligible. Most of these are located in DDA’s sports complexes scattered across the city. The pools are open to members, and also non-members who take up temporary memberships that can range from a day to a month. As a result, DDA’s sports complexes see an astounding rush during summer.

There is only one functional swimming pool under the south corporation. This facility has been outsourced to a private contractor for maintenance. North corporation has seven swimming pools under its jurisdiction (one of them is not functional currently). The east corporation does not have any swimming pool. A north corporation official said: “The swimming pools will be outsourced to a private contractor for maintenance. As per the rule, the contractor can operate the pool only after lifeguard is hired. The process for outsourcing the swimming pool is in process.”

The New Delhi Municipal Council has three swimming pools in areas, including Sarojini Nagar and Mandir Marg. “The swimming pools are outsourced to a private agency and has two lifeguards each. These pools are located in NDMC schools, which are mostly used by schoolchildren and, after school hours, open to the public,” a senior NDMC official said.

“We see a huge rush during summer and the peak is between 7am and 9am and 5pm and 8pm,” D Sarkar, commissioner (sports), DDA, said. Even at its Olympic-size pools at sports complexes, DDA cannot accommodate more than 80 people in the main pool and 20 children at the smaller pools due to licencing rules.

Sarkar said even though allowing both members and non-members to use the pools leads to crowding, DDA doesn’t discriminate. “It is a public facility and anybody can use it,” he said.

Talking about the recent incident in which a 35-yearold software engineer died at the swimming pool of DDA’s Paschim Vihar sports complex, Sarkar said all emergency measures were in place. “It is our lifeguards who had taken him to a hospital just across the road,” he said. Sarkar said all DDA swimming pools have lifeguards and instructors. “We have lifesaving equipment, buoys, oxygen cylinders, stretchers etc., which are also tested regularly,” he said.

Sarkar said those using the swimming pool have to furnish a medical certificate. The victim, however, was the guest of a member, he said.

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