When a major part of Maharashtra is witnessing acute water shortage, as many as 16 of the 21 swimming pools of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) are operational. In Pimpri-Chinchwad, all the 10 pools are operational even as the civic administration has decided to effect a 15 per cent water cut due to depleting water stock in Pavana dam, which supplies water to the industrial city.
The PMC started water management in October as the dams supplying water to the city were running low on stock due to the poor monsoon. At the time, the PMC decided to stop operations of all swimming pools and washing centres with immediate effect. “There are 21 swimming pools owned by PMC and run by private agencies. First, we directed them to cease operating after the PMC decision, but later decided to allow the pools which are not using drinking water. Thus, there are 16 pools that are operational now while the rest are undergoing repair work,” said Satish Kulkarni, deputy municipal commissioner and land estate officer.
The PMC administration is keeping a close watch on the pools to ensure there is no violation of rules, he said, adding that no civic pool is allowed to use water from the drinking supply system. However, it was not clear from a visit to a pool on the water being used, as all operators claimed that water is supplied through tankers.
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The civic pools have lifeguards posted all the time as per the agreement with operators. All civic pools ensure there is at least a lifeguard within the premises if not in the pool. The first-aid facility is compulsory at the pool, said a trainer at a civic pool.
On water used at the pool, the trainer said the water is of borewells and if the PMC directs them to cease complete operation, they will have no objections in doing so as they will not have to pay the rent to the civic body for that period.
In Pimpri-Chinchwad, assistant municipal commissioner D M Punde said in at least five swimming pools, borewell water is used. “If the standing committee takes a decision regarding the closure of the pools, we will close them down,” he said.
When contacted, Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Commissioner Rajeev Jadhav denied there was any wastage of water.
“In all the swimming pools, we are recycling the water after cleaning it up. Nowhere are we using any freshwater,” he said. “If there is further need to effect water cut, we will close down the pools…but since we are recycling the water, I don’t think there will be any need to close down the pools,” he said.
However, the commissioner sounded surprised when told that borewell water was being used in swimming pools. When asked whether the borewell water had been tested for use as citizens have often complained of skin allergies, the civic chief said all the water that is used in civic pools is cleaned in the filtration tank before being put to use. He said he will still look into the water and find out whether borewell water was suitable for use in swimming pools.