The death of an 11-year-old boy at a swimming pool has raised posers about the safety arrangements at the facilities for swimmers in Patna.
While the authorities of Chandragupta Jal Vihar — where the mishap occurred on Thursday evening — claimed that the boy, Kaushik Ayushman, succumbed to head injuries after jumping into the shallow end of the pool, experts and swimmers questioned the availability of safety measures at swimming facilities in the city.
Ramvilas Pandey, the secretary of Bihar Swimming Association, said swimming pools should have at least one or two expert trainers.
He added: “A trainer should have sharp eyes and always focus on new swimmers to prevent them from venturing into the deep end of the pool. There should be other facilities like lifeguards and divers to prevent mishaps, as well as lifejackets, first-aid kit and water glasses.”
Sources said Chandragupta Jal Vihar on the premises of at Moin-ul-Haq Stadium at Rajendra Nagar does not have these facilities. Pandey said: “As the tourism department manages the swimming pool, we have urged them a number of times to upgrade the facilities here. But nothing has been done.”
The pool has only one trainer, Gopal Prasad. But he has little experience and gets a meagre fee for training young swimmers, said sources. He was present when Kaushik, the son of Kati Factory area resident Kanahiya Prasad Sinha, met with the accident on Thursday.
On Friday, the gates of Chandragupta Jal Vihar were closed and only a security guard was present on the premises. Sources said it is not the only pool to lack basic amenities. Others, too, provide precious few facilities to their patrons though the fees they charge are often exorbitant.
The Telegraph visited a number of these pools to find out what they provide to swimmers.
Location: Beer Chand Patel Path
Fee: Rs 4,000 for adults, Rs 2,000 for children (per month)
Facilities: One lifeguard. No first-aid kit
“We have no trainers for young swimmers. Safety is the concern of the swimmers who come here,” said an employee of the hotel.
New Patna Club
Location: Beer Chand Patel Path
Fee: Rs 800 for non-members, Rs 200 for members (per month)
Facilities: Two male and a female trainer. No diver or lifeguard
Shakeel Ahmad, the manager of the swimming pool at the club, said: “We don’t have lifeguards. The trainers act as lifeguards.”
Location: Near Gandhi Maidan
Fee: Rs 4,400 for adults, Rs 2,500 for children (per month)
Facilities: One trainer, two lifeguards
Rohini Sinha, a front office executive of the hotel, told The Telegraph: “We have one trainer and two lifeguards for the safety of the swimmers.”
The fees at Chandragupta Jal Vihar are exorbitant as well. Swimmers have to pay Rs 9,000 for a six-month package. For others, it is higher. Kaushik had taken admission only a few days back.
An unnatural death case has been lodged at Bahadurpur police station on Thursday. Ranjeet Kumar, the station house officer of the police station, said: “The victim’s father, Kanahiya Prasad Sinha, has not lodged any case against the swimming pool authorities. He has given in writing to the police that his son’s death was unnatural. The parents did not want to send the body for post-mortem either.”
Tourism minister Sunil Kumar ‘Pintu’ told The Telegraph: “Based on the information provided by the pool management and the boy’s father, it was gathered that the boy jumped into the side where there was less water. He died due to head injuries, not drowning.” The minister also said the swimming pool had a trainer and an instruction board instructs swimmers not to jump into it.
The district administration does not have any mechanism to check the facilities at the swimming pools, though.