.........BALANGIR: Even as winter has finally settled in and it’s the best time of the year to experience refreshing swimming sessions, the champions from the district are compelled to dive into Maharani Sagar for their daily practice session in the absence of an operational pool in the town.
Though these youths had brought glory to the district by bagging medals at district-level championships, they are deprived of availing the facility of a swimming pool for practising the sport. Thus, they rely on Maharani Sagar to hone their skills and tone up their muscles.
The town’s lone swimming pool in Rajendra Narayan Complex, named after the former chief minister, lies in a state of neglect. Sources said the proposal to construct a swimming poll was floated in 2011 and it materialised within the next two years. However, the swimming pool failed to remain operational for long due to alleged apathy by the authorities.
Today, mosses float on the pool’s top surface, while the floor is covered by a thick layer of dust. In such a scenario, the District Swimming Association claims that their efforts to turn the authorities’ attention towards the pool went in vain.The swimming champions from the district, like Naresh Pradhan and Sukanta Chhatria of Tulsinagar, believe that they can prove their worth at the state-level if provided with advanced training facilities. An electrician by profession, Naresh had notched up second place in the inter-district swimming competition in 2015. Sukanta Chhatria was ranked third in the same competition.
Taking a cue from the duo, Shakti Rudra Amat also started practising the sport in the pond and stood second in inter-district swimming competition this year, held at Sambalpur.Disappointed with the prevailing situation, these budding stars have now offered to return their medals if the State Government doesn’t take steps to make the swimming pool operational.
Secretary of District Swimming Association, Sumit Purohit, said though they had written letters to the then District Collector and also the Rajya Sabha member A U Singhdeo in this regard, nothing has come of it.“Singhdeo even wrote to Sports department requesting to expedite the matter, but nothing fruitful has happened so far,” Purohit added.
“We are now relying all our hopes on Secretary, Sports and Youth Affairs, Vishal Deb, who visited the Complex on November 7. The swimmers have even apprised Balangir MP Kalikesh Singhdeo besides the Additional District Magistrate of the matter on November 10. Both have promised to do the needful,” Purohit said.