Swimmers in a quandary as JP Park pool remains closed

Bangalore City Sports

Parents demand a new tender for the facility.

Bengaluru: The closure of the BBMP swimming pool at JP Park since March 2020 has affected the training schedules of swimmers competing in national and international events.

“As the pool is closed, I am finding it very difficult to train,” said Sambhav R, a national-level swimmer. In 2020, Sambhav and his family had shifted their home from RT Nagar to JP Park to reduce transit time,and allow him to focus on academics as well.

“I now go to Seshadripuram to train due to which I miss college,” Sambhav added.

The pool is given for maintenance by BBMP to a third party via a tender. The previous tender expired in March 2020. The pool has been left unattended since.

The water in the pool appears green due fungal growth on the floor tiling. The parking space in front of the complex is now used to park BBMP waste trucks. Cracks have developed on the walls.

The BBMP lists a tender on its website for the period of 2019-20 to 2023-24.

However, a former manager of the pool, Chandra Soni, claims the term of the tender expired last year. “Our term got over when the tender’s term expired just before the lockdown.”

Parents of the swimmers are concerned about the delay in re-tendering of the pool. Hanumanta Raju B, father of Thithikshaa H who represented Karnataka in the Khelo India Youth Games 2020, said: “The interruption has affected our ward. It is high time a new tender for the pool is released.”

Another parent, Mahesh Kumar, shifted his house from Yeshwantpur to Muthyala Nagara to facilitate his son Dhyan M’s training. “We shifted to a rented house near the pool to save time, but now the pool is not operational.”

Dhyan M, who represented Karnataka in the National Swimming Championships, now trains at a smaller pool in Seshadripuram, along with other swimmers of the JP Park pool.

The Bangalore Swimming Research Centre used to train children at the JP Park pool when it was operational. After the pool closed, the centre’s coach, A C Jayarajan, started giving training at Seshadripuram and bore the expenses.

“Ultimately the children are losing. The pool will take at least three months to repair as the filtration system needs to be replaced. Training cannot stop for that long,” Jayarajan informed The Observer.

The problem of poor maintenance is not new at JP Park swimming pool. In 2020, Srihari Nataraj, a swimmer who is set to represent India at the Tokyo Olympics, stopped training at the JP Park pool and shifted to Dolphin Aquatics. “One of the reasons of shifting was the pool not being in an appropriate condition,” said Nataraj.

The parents now plan to form a committee and take their grievances to the local MLA and deputy CM Ashwath Narayan CN. “Earlier we did not need such a committee. But now we will formalise the details and register the society,” said Mahesh Kumar.

Some parents are of the opinion that BBMP should hand over the maintenance of the pool to the association. “If BBMP really cares about helping its young swimmers, then it should hand over the pool to us. The parents and the coaches are ready to run the pool,” said Hanumanta Raju B.

Staff at the office of the executive engineer, BBMP BEML Layout, RR Nagar, said the tender had been released two months back and the financials for the same will be approved soon.

Apart from the swimmers, shop owners in the vicinity have also been impacted. Jagdish, who runs a chaat shop near the pool, said: “I knew the pool was closed so I didn’t open shop for 10 months. Now I have opened but I don’t think I’ll earn much.”

With almost a year wasted, the swimmers hope for the pool to take its old shape, so that they resume their older training schedules and continue competing at the highest level.

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