Chennai corporation gyms flunk fitness test | Chennai News

Velmurugans is in trouble. The district-level discus thrower cannot afford expensive gymnasiums, and the free society facility on Wall Tax Road has been closed for two years due to lack of funds and maintenance. The majority of the company’s 160 gymnasiums are in similar condition.

In 2016, then Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa announced 50 crores for setting up ‘Amma’ gymnasiums in parks and playgrounds and upgrading existing facilities. Many have been renamed and new ones have been created with dumbbells, EFX machines, bench presses, and hydraulic pull and row machines.
Six years later, a visit to gymnasiums in Aminjikarai, Anna Nagar, Kilpauk, Choolai, Royapuram and Korukkupet found them closed or without equipment. The one in Choolai Market in North Chennai has no sign and is used as a community hall. The one on 24th Road, N Block, Anna Nagar, is now a fair price PDS store and a godown, with no gym equipment. On Wall Tax Road, the defunct gym has broken clubbells and hydraulic machines, gathering dust for years.
The company’s footprint includes treadmills and bike machines, but no gyms were found during a TOI visit. There are no restrooms, water taps, instructors, or gym staff. In many places, the keys are in the hands of neighborhood residents who use the gym daily.
While officials say no centralized funds have been allocated for maintenance, an RTI response given by the company to volunteer Arappor Iyakkam Naveen Rajan T showed that 20 lakh was sanctioned in 2020 for the maintenance of four gymnasiums in Thiruvottiyur area. The company, in another RTI response, said 2.6 crore had been allocated for a gym in Madhavaram, but an audit by campaigners found no equipment there. “We don’t know how the funds are used. Only the poor who might need these gymnasiums are affected,” Naveen said.
Company officials say the gymnasiums are mostly renovated and maintained with MLA funds. “Once we have opened and placed the equipment, maintenance is only based on need. If the areas seek funds for renovation, we donate. Otherwise, they renovate or buy equipment with MLA funds,” said Panbarasan, deputy executive engineer at the parks department.
Under Nalamigu Chennai, a component of Singara Chennai, the company has installed equipment in parks maintained by private contractors and 29 parks now have fitness equipment. “Up to 50 crore is likely to be allocated for the establishment of more parks. We plan to expand this project and tenders are progressing,” Panbarasan said.


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