Facility yet to be fully functional; areas demarcated for billiards, table tennis, gym, luxury bath

The New Delhi Municipal Council-run sports centre at Laxmi Bai Nagar will become one more venue from where the Delhi Police will teach women how to defend themselves from the Capital’s predators. Judo and karate classes will soon begin at this multipurpose gym which is flanked by Indraniketan Women’s Hostel and Pillanji Village in Sarojini Nagar.

Yet this facility, which was inaugurated in January this year, with cost estimates ranging between Rs.2 crore and Rs.5 crore, is far from being a fully functional “multipurpose” gymnasium. It houses a steam sauna bath (a first for the civic body), demarcated areas for billiards, snooker, table tennis, squash and gym facilities and a a wide green cover at the back which is yet to be developed according to the area map at the entrance.

In actuality, the civic body for the last three months has kept everything locked except the gym, table tennis and yoga room. The luxurious steam and sauna baths – one for men and the other for women – have been awaiting specialists to operate them given that they require careful attention.

“For now we are providing access to some facilities free-of-charge,” said New Delhi Municipal Council Director (Projects) O. P. Mishra. The civic body is keen to assess the footfall at the facility before tariffs are decided. “We do not want it to be underutilised. We have drawn up a plan to check the popularity of the facility before we open up all the amenities to the public. It will be done along the same lines as the NDMC’s facility in Kaka Nagar,” he said. The Kaka Nagar facility has 1,500 members and the civic body claims that it also took a while to become popular.

The squash courts will remain closed, at least for now. “We are not opening the squash courts since there is no demand for them right now. But apart from that we need a good trainer since squash is such a sport that needs to be closely monitored. It is a very simple game but it can also cause injury to the legs,” said Mr. Mishra.

While crores of rupees have been invested in construction of the multipurpose gym, the “green cover” at the back is non-existent. Presently, it serves as a garbage dump for the residents of Pillanji Village with a dilapidated basket ball court and an area with overgrown shrubs that could be turned into a tennis court.

“The space at the back will be developed into either a tennis court, if the space permits, or an open badminton court. We will also look into building a basketball court,” said Mr. Mishra. For now, the grounds continue to serve as a place for the neighbouring colony kids to while away their time or for residents to fling a plastic bag full for garbage.

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