New regulations come after death of a student in a city school swimming pool last August

The city police commissioner may soon have the last word on swimming pool facilities in Chennai.

The move is part of larger regulations that will be put in place in the State to ensure safety in public swimming pools. Last August, a nine-year-old city boy died in an accident in the swimming pool of his school here.

After deliberations over the past months, the State government proposes to empower the city police commissioner to issue licences to operate swimming pools in Chennai District.

In suburbs and other parts of the State, the district collector will have the power to issue such licences. Now, swimming pools do not have such a licensing authority.

The licensing authority will make decisions based on the recommendation of a committee comprising representatives of local bodies, fire and rescue services, health department and sports development authority.

The decision will be taken at a meeting convened by the licensing authority on a periodic basis. The commissioner of revenue administration will be the appellate authority in case of denial of licence. A licence fee will be collected from pool owners on a yearly basis.

The design approval for the pools will be given by the Chennai Corporation or the local body concerned in other districts.

Stringent conditions for pool users include insurance and medical test for kids, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. timing for school pools, pH value in the range of 7.2 to 8 for pool water, everyday recycling of water and change of pool water every year. Colleges will be permitted to keep pools open till 9 p.m.

Initially, it was proposed that the regulations be restricted to schools but the government has decided to regulate all buildings, including apartments, as a large number of swimming pools are being constructed in urban areas. However, schools with suspended pools will not get licence or design approval.

Once the State government gives its approval to the new set of comprehensive regulations, owners of structures with pools will have to get licence after making the required modifications to ensure safety of users.

Many of the existing pools have not been designed as per the proposed norms. A few relaxations will be permitted for existing pools.

Private residential pools in homes will not have stringent regulations similar to common facilities in apartments.

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