Bhubaneswar, October 20: The Odisha government’s decision to demolish the Biju Patnaik Swimming Pool Complex at Kalinga Stadium, which came after the pool was closed on September 20 , has agitated trainees and athletes practicing in the pool. The decision was taken to expand galleries to accommodate more spectators during the upcoming men’s Hockey World Cup, scheduled to be held in Bhubaneswar next year.
Although the move to bring down the complex by the government was taken in view of the need of doubling the capacity of the hockey stadium situated near the pool, it has raised concerns for the future of hundreds of athletes including even those of international repute. The swimmers are upset with the decision as they were not given any prior notice. Besides, they are also not satisfied with the alternative arrangement provided to them.
The Biju Patnaik Swimming Pool, constructed in 2006, was replete with world-class infrastructure to facilitate and encourage swimming talents in the state. It has been since then the favourite training pool for professional and amateur swimmers in the city.
Regarding the decision, homegrown swimming champion Pratyasha Ray’s mother said, “Kalinga stadium swimming pool is the only suitable place in Bhubaneswar to practice professional swimming as it isthe only 50 meters pool in the city. However, we weren’t notified about the demolition, well in advance. A notice, just two days before the demolition is unacceptable. Although the authorities have opened up the pool at the KIIT campus for practice, it is still not as convenient as the one at Kalinga Stadium. The KIIT campus pool is merely 25 metres as compared to the 50 metres one at the stadium. Since Pratyasha specialises in back stroke swimming, she technically requires more space to practice. That is not possible at the KIIT campus pool.”
Picture Courtesy: www.odishatv.in
"We have been informed that the pool will be accessible to swimmers again from March. We hope they do not delay it further than March as it will affect the swimmers’ practice,” she added.
However, talking to MCL, Secretary of Sports and Youth affairs, Vishal Dev said, “Don't take it as a demolition, consider it as a renovation. Out of all the people practising in the pool, only seven are professional swimmers and athletes. Alternate arrangements have been made for them to train at the pool in the KIIT Campus.
He further added saying, “This move has been taken to make space for a world class gallery for the hockey tournament. Space with similar dimensions will be provided, next to the gallery, for construction of the swimming pool, which will be ready by April next year. The swimmers can continue their training regularly after that.”
The demolition work at the Kalinga stadium swimming pool has already begun since yesterday.