BMC quarantine plan makes Mahul residents jittery

Corporation says it’s the last resort; residents say shifting patients to a polluted area makes no sense

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Friday inspected buildings in Mahul, an area declared “unfit for human habitation” by the National Green Tribunal in 2015, for possible quarantine facilities, raising anxiety among residents.

Dr. Bhupendra Patil, medical officer of M West ward, told The Hindu, “We conducted a recce in some buildings in Mahul as the BMC is planning to set up a [quarantine] centre there.” He said it would be the BMC’s last resort, considered “only after we have exhausted all other centres in the city.”

However, BMC officials inspecting and cleaning floors in the buildings at Mahul has made residents anxious. Some told The Hindu it makes no sense to set up a centre in a polluted area and it defeats the purpose of any litigation and court orders to shift people out of the hell hole.

Maya Pujari, a resident of Eversmile Complex in Mahul, said, “There are three buildings: building 57 is ready to have patients, building 1 is almost ready and today, they were working in building 44. There were BMC officials and the police. The moment we saw them we started protesting and shouting so they don’t proceed with the cleaning. They went back today, but we don’t see it happening for too long.”

Sanjay Rajorya, another resident of the complex, said, “There is another building in Videocon Atithi near S.G. Chemicals. They have started santising the buildings and will soon shift patients here. They have decided and will go ahead with it.”

Anita Dhole, a resident of Mahul, said, “The authorities just don’t care for the lives of the poor. We have got so many orders from the High Court directing them to shift us out because we are falling sick. What is the point of shifting people here, who are already sick?”

The BMC has its own reasoning for the move. Assistant municipal commissioner of M West ward Prithviraj Chavhan said, “If people in slums need to be quarantined, that will not be possible as they don’t have individual toilets. In that case, Mahul will be our last resort. But before that, we have 700 rooms in 28 lodges and even a private hospital.”

(With inputs from Tanvi Deshpande)

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