BENGALURU: On Tuesday evening, Olympian swimmer Nisha Millet was in for a rude shock when she was intimated by the Department of Youth Empowerment and Sports (DYES) that she would have to hand over Kensington Swimming Pool, from where she ran the Nisha Millet Swimming Academy, to a new management immediately. While the contract was supposed to be valid for a period of 2+1 years (until April 2020), an early bid was called for in May.
When she visited the DYES in April-May, she was given an extension of three months, until July 20 ‘19. “I had spoken to the DYES commissioner on July 18, asking him that since July 20 was our last date and no decision had been taken on the new tender, what was to be done from July 20 onwards? He said that nobody had asked us to move, and if there are any changes, we would be informed well in advance. He asked us to resume our batches (month-long batches) and also asked us to deposit nine months (Rs 4.5 lakh) of pool rent, which was done,” she said.
Since the new government took over, Millet said there’s been complete chaos. “I couldn’t believe what was happening. Since the tender hadn’t been awarded to any of the six bidders, we thought we would get an extension. We were also part of the bidding process. There was no reason for us not to have got the the extension, especially since the quality of the pool was in check. We didn’t have any time to inform our coaches or students, who turned up in the evening and found it locked. Between 11 am and 4pm, we had employed 15 trucks to clear out the place,” said a distraught Millet, who has been teaching there for two years.
While she trains at a pool in Koramangala, Millet says she is never going to work with the government again. “Even though the pool had been renovated by DYES a few years back, it had been lying vacant for many years. We had to clean and fix it and even fill water with our own money — close to `16 lakh. DYES has still not refunded these bills. There are almost 250 people learning swimming and 50 competitive swimmers coming here, who might just quit the sport since we do not have another 50 metre pool for them to train at.”
Meanwhile, head coach and programme director of Dolphin Aquatics Nihar Ameen (winner of Dronacharya Award 2015), whose management will be taking over, said he had “no idea” about the happenings. Officials from DYES were unavailable for comment.