Thursday, April 26, 2007

Private initiative keeps BBMP swimming pools buzzing

Private initiative keeps BBMP swimming pools buzzing
By Gayathri L DH News Service Bangalore:
With the private companies taking over, the pools are very well- maintained and the BBMP is even making profits.

The erstwhile Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP)-owned public swimming pools across the City were for a long time in a deplorable condition, thanks to dismal hygiene levels, all through the period when they were maintained by the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike. But not any more.

According to a Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) source, the Palike was running up losses of Rs 5 lakh to 6 lakh a year and was struggling to maintain the pools. But that was around 15 years ago, before BMP started leasing these pools to private organisations. The initiative has helped in ‘rejuvenating’ the pools and, in the process, filling BBMP coffers.

BBMP owns eight such pools in the City.

While five have been leased to private agencies, one has been handed over to the Department of Youth Services and Sports and one is still maintained by the BBMP. One, the Corporation Swimming pool at Seshadripuram, is not ‘functional’.

The BMP began leasing the pools, as it was finding it very difficult to maintain the hygiene levels and get competent people to monitor their use. The cost of maintenance - plus the water and electricity charges - was very high, leading to losses for the Palike.

With the private companies taking over, the pools are very well- maintained and the BBMP is even making profits, the sources said. The pool in Sadashivanagar has been leased to KC Reddy Swim Centre, the ones in Jayanagar and Vijayanagar to PM Swimming Centre, and the one at Basavanagudi to Basavanagudi Aquatic Centre.

According to some pool managers, they were in a pathetic state when they were handed over to the private parties.

Nihar Ameen, Programme Director of K C Reddy Swim Centre said, the pool used to look worse than Sankey Tank. “After we took over, we’ve ensured that there is 24-hour filtration and that the pool water is tested on an hourly basis, to check the chlorine levels and ensure maximum safety. We also have 10 lifeguards on duty on a rotation basis,” he added. Many old-timers who have used the pool after they were leased say the difference is marked and it is now as good as any private pool.

Says John Veigas of Maruthi Nagar, “I’ve been using the Jayanagar pool since 1977. The pool had such a dark green colour and was so dirty, that if someone got drowned, no one would even know. Post-‘privatisation’, the pool is so clear that if you drop a coin where it is at its deepest (15 feet).”


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