Balaju pool in sorry state

  • oldest public swimming pool
- Anup Ojha, Kathmandu

Aug 15, 2015-

Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) has announced to invest Rs 26 million for renovating Balaju swimming pool, the oldest public pool left badly damaged by the April 25 earthquake.

The swimming pool, just under the canopy of the green lush forest of Rani Ban, and popular among amateur learners and swimming enthusiast, is now in a sorry state.

According to Balaju Baisdhara Park Office, the swimming pool was the main source of income of the park. “We were expecting to earn over seven million in revenue for the season,” said Shyam Prasad Pandey, chief of the Park. The swimming session runs from mid-April to October.  Every year KMC has been able to raise over five million in revenue from the pool.

“Two engineers have already been assigned for reconstruction, we will soon go for the tender process,” said KMC chief executive Rudra Singh Tamang.

Apart from the swimming pool, the quake has also caused significant damage to both male and female changing rooms, and the bath house. Once always filled with swimmers, the empty pool now wears a deserted look.

The pool has been in operation since 1970, while the Park was established in 1964. KMC took over its management in 2002 from Rastrya Sabhariha Bikash Samiti.

Considered the oldest public swimming pool, the pool is said to have been built for the then royal family. Hem Prasad Paudel, 57, who has been working as a security guard at the Park for the past 27 years claims that the pool is older than the one in Rangasala. “The whole swimming pool and the changing rooms are in dismal condition after the earthquake,” said Paudel. He informed that during peak season over 500 people would swim there on a daily basis and the number of people exceeded over 1,000 during Saturdays.

 Ishwor Karki, 53, head of the Nepali swimming team, urges KMC to quickly renovate the pool as it has significant importance in the history of Nepali swimming. “My father taught me to swim here at the age of five. Many national level swimmers learnt swimming at this pool,” said Karki.

The public rues over not being able to use the swimming pool, specially during the summer. “This was the best swimming pool in the Valley with a very affordable price, I used to feel very intimate with the nature coming here,” said a nostalgic Akash Bajagain, 22, from Sano Bharayang. “We want this swimming pool to open as soon as possible,” he added.

It costs Rs 125 and Rs 100 for general people and students for a three-hour swimming session. KMC officials pledge to renovate the pool in time for next year.

The April quake has also damaged other public swimming pools in the Valley such as the ones in Rangasala, Mahendra Police Club and Satdobato.

Published: 16-08-2015 10:04

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