The Water Works Swimming Pool at Vellayambalam, which got mired in controversy after a demolition-and-reconstruction project went awry three years ago, is expected to be reopened in two months’ time.
It was originally expected that the renovated pool would be opened by March-end. National Games officials attributed the deadline extension to the delays that hit the 35th National Games as a whole. None of the Games aquatics events are to be held at this pool, officials said.
The pool courted controversy in 2011 when the government decided to demolish it and build an Olympic-size facility with a side pool for the 35th Games. The pool was dug up, but work was stopped when water supply pipes were located underground. A wave of protests followed since a perfectly usable swimming pool was destroyed in this manner. Chances of any of the National Games aquatics events being held here dimmed with the commissioning of the Aquatics Complex at Pirappancode, some 24 km from the city.
But then, to the relief of swimmers here, the National Games Secretariat had decided to renovate the pool anyway. It was in 1963 that the original pool was opened to the public by the then Kerala Governor V V Giri. The pool was 50 metres long and 19.5 metres wide. It will be a ‘fatter’ pool that will be replacing it. The width has been increased by 6.5 metres to 25 metres.
‘’At the time of the demolition, as many as 100 passes were being issued in one shift. There were four shifts in all, which meant some 400 people were using the pool every day,’’ said Gopakumar B, secretary of the Kerala Water Authority Swimming Pool Users Association.
The association has now urged the government to provide an entrance to the pool from the Manaveeyam Road, with a beautiful garden and a statue of Col Godavarma Raja, who built the pool, which was also the first in Thiruvananthapuram. The association has asked the government to provide overhead capacity so that water pressure doesn’t dip when all the showers in the bathrooms are used simultaneously, Gopakumar said. Other demands include new urinals, digital clocks, a mechanism for announcing the shift changes, FM radio and LED TV in the waiting rooms, a lab for assessing and maintaining the PH value of water and a mini restaurant and parking lot.