Swimming pool to train firemen unused since 2011!
Mumbai : Nearly eight years after the deluge of 26/7 and one year after the Mantralaya blaze, nothing seems to have changed in the Mumbai fire brigade. The swimming pool made to train firemen is lying unused at their Antop Hill command centre.
The pool was inaugurated by Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on November 15, 2011. However, it has been lying unused ever since. When this correspondent visited the place on Friday, it was full of stagnant rain water which had turned yellowish. The firemen who live in the quarters adjacent to the pool complain that mosquitoes are breeding in the swimming pool.
A total of Rs 20 crore were spent on renovating the Fire Brigade’s command centre which includes the swimming pool, a changing room and two seven-storeyed buildings.
The swimming pool is 22-metre long and 15 metre wide and its depth is 3 metre.
But a sad tale of neglect now plagues it. At any given day, branches of coconut trees can be seen falling in the swimming pool area. Even the floor tiles have gone black and most of the time the pool is filled with rain water. Mud has also settled in the swimming pool.
Deputy chief fire officer Shashikant Kale confirmed that the pool was never used. “It will be used once staffers are hired for maintaining it,’’ he said. According to him, the process to hire maintenance staffers is under way.
This is the only swimming pool meant exclusively for the 2,300 firemen who are distributed in 33 fire stations across Mumbai.
After 26/11 when half of Mumbai was under water, the fire brigade started sending its men for a four-day swimming course at Mafatlal Swimming Pool at Marine Drive. The firemen are taught to swim in the sea off Chowpatty during the four-day course. This swimming pool at Antop Hill was meant to ensure that they practised swimming throughout the year.
On Thursday, the state government admitted in the monsoon session of the assembly that they had been warned by the Tata Energy Resources Institute (TERI) that there could be a repeat of 26/7.
Suryakant Mahadik, president of Mumbai Ladhau Firemen’s Union, which owes allegiance to the Shiv Sena, said, “We are following up the matter with the BMC for two years but there is no reply from them.’’ The Shiv Sena has been ruling the BMC for more than a decade now. Meanwhile, BMC additional commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar said that, if the swimming pool is ready then it should be used. When asked why the swimming pool was not being used, she told this correspondent to contact the chief fire officer of Mumbai fire brigade for the same.