The death of a 17-year old novice swimmer, who drowned in the swimming pool in College Square, yesterday, has led to revelation of lapses on the part of the swimming club management which did not appoint any life guards for the safety of the learners.
This alleged negligence on the part of the swimming club authorities stands in direct defiance of the rules that were set by the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) which made deployment of lifeguards in swimming pools in areas covered by the civic body compulsory. The rules were laid down in 2017 after a similar incident unfolded at the Hedua swimming club.
Md. Shahbaz, a novice who had joined the swimming club, managed by Calcutta University Institute’s Swimming Section, a month back, yesterday drowned in the main section of the pool, where the water is deeper, and where he was not supposed to have gone.
Shahbaz was supposed to have stayed within the learners’ section of the pool, and it has not been established how exactly he reached the deeper section of the pool. But eyewitnesses say he crossed to the deeper side from the shallow side without informing anyone. His body was fished out of the pool after a three-hour-long search operation by the disaster management team of the Kolkata police. The KMC has suspended all swimming operations in the clubs at College Square.
Several other lapses came to light, including shortage of trainers. It was learnt that on Sunday, when Shahbaz was swimming, a total of two trainers were supervising at least 18 swimmers which as per swimmers at the club, is not sufficient. Moreover, it was learnt that the swimming club had no lifeguards to ensure safety of the learners inside the pool.
The KMC, in 2017, had laid out rules for all the swimming clubs within the civic body area that included appointment of trained lifeguards. “The swimming clubs had signed a memorandum of understanding with the KMC in 2017 after a drowning incident in the Hedua swimming club, agreeing to follow the prescribed rules of the civic body” said Debashish Kumar, member mayor-incouncil (MMIC), parks and squares, KMC. He added that a detailed report has been sought from the club concerned.
It has come to light that several clubs in the city still does not have any trained lifeguards. An official of the Hedua swimming club claimed to the media that “while lifeguards are useful in general swimming pools but in turbid pond water, a diver will hardly be able to see anything underwater.”
Md Ershad, the brother of the deceased said “I will lodge a complaint against the club since the incident was a result of apparent negligence by the authorities. I am waiting for the investigation results which will establish the exact cause of death.”