Mumbai: BMC's lethargy forces Andheri societies to deal with 'crap'

A damaged sewage line and BMC lethargy has brought dengue and malaria to the doorstep of two Andheri societies

Residents are forced to wade through the stinking, filthy sewage water every day. Pics/Satej Shinde
Residents are forced to wade through the stinking, filthy sewage water every day. Pics/Satej Shinde

Residents of two housing societies at Gilbert Hill, Andheri, are living the proverbial phrase: when life throws sh*t at you. This, since the time a builder damaged a sewage pipeline in their neighbourhood. Hundreds of residents in the upmarket vicinity have been left with no dignity in life or death - schoolchildren are being sent home for wearing dirty uniforms, adults are susceptible to malaria and dengue, and even ambulances refuse to enter the locality to pick up the ill and deceased.

Children are being sent back from school if they step into the sewage water and get their uniforms dirty
Children are being sent back from school if they step into the sewage water and get their uniforms dirty

Nearly a month has passed since the residents' life came to a standstill after the sewage pipeline was broken during the construction of an SRA building by Sahana Group, but neither the authorities nor the builder seemed to give a sh*t. On Friday, mid-day visited the locality and found that not only was area flooded with murky water, but the stench was unbearable and there were flies and mosquitoes buzzing everywhere.

Residents are resorting to parking their cars on the pavement to prevent damage from the sewage water
Residents are resorting to parking their cars on the pavement to prevent damage from the sewage water

According to the residents, during the construction of the SRA building, the labourers failed to check for the presence of the sewage pipeline and ended up breaking it. However, when the locals asked the builder to fix the mistake, they were allegedly told to "adjust" until the construction was over.

Falling ill
As many as 300 residents from the Jesal and Rajveer apartment buildings are worst affected, as the sewage pipe is leaking right next to their homes, near the famous heritage site, Gilbert Hill. Lalit Rohira and Sonia Rohira, residents of Rajveer Apartments, are the latest victims. Just a week ago, they were both diagnosed with dengue. "Both my sister and I had to be hospitalised. We have been living here for years, but have never seen so many mosquitoes – it's because of all this dirty water."

Two more residents - also siblings - from Jesal Apartments have fallen prey to malaria. "Both my sons, aged 22 and 13, were diagnosed with malaria 10 days ago. We are unable to open our windows due to the mosquitoes. The place has become so dirty, that there are mosquitoes and flies everywhere, even on the sixth floor," said their father, Rasedh Sheikh.

Even in death, the residents are denied dignity. On June 25, when 86-year-old Humseveni TE passed away at home in the nearby Sai Apartments, her son had to scramble to find an ambulance service that was willing to enter the muck to collect her body.

Rain of misery
The monsoon is only making the problem worse. Every time it rains hard, the water level rises by up to two feet. On Wednesday, the water got inside the electrical circuit room and the entire building's power had to be shut down for the night. Once the rainfall had stopped, the residents had to manually break a clogged drain to remove the stagnant water.

All the landline and cable connections were disrupted due to the stagnant water in the basement. The building elevators had to be shut down as well, since water gets inside them. Thanks to this, many senior citizens were forced to move out, as they were unable to tackle the stairs. "My mother is 79 years old and had a knee replacement a few years ago. She can't take stairs, so I was forced to shift her to Pune, to live with my sister," said Rajendra Salunkhe, the vice-secretary of Jesal society.

In Rajveer Apartments, the sewage water has mixed with the borewell water, so the residents have no water to drink or bathe. The water on the road is so filthy that residents have to carry their kids on their shoulders on the way to the school bus in the mornings.

Blame game
After repeated complaints to BMC, several officers visited the spot, but so far, it hasn't borne fruit. Civic officials said that it is the responsibility of the Sahana Group to fix the sewage leak. "When we spoke to the in-charge at the developer's company, they said that we will have to bear with the problems until the construction gets over," alleged Richa Singh Gautam, a resident of Jesal. Despite mid-day's attempts to contact the builder, no one eas available for comment.

Help at last
When the residents approached the local corporator, Apla Ashok Jadhav, she installed a pump to drain the sewage water, but the pipe remained as it was. Last week, the frustrated residents reached out to local MLA Ameet Satam, and he assured them action would be taken.

"Due to the construction of the SRA building, something happened to the sewage system and the residents are in trouble. BMC is working with the builder to resolve the issue by Sunday. Otherwise, I will go to there myself to resolve the issue," said MLA Satam.

BMC says
Local ward officer Prashant Gaikwad said, "We have received the complaint and have already installed one pump. The society is mainly facing a stormwater drainage problem, and we have already forwarded the complaint to the SRA, asking them to take action against the builder who broke the sewage pipeline." 

Voices

Lokraj TE, Sai Building
'Ambulances refused to enter and collect my mother's body. The ambulance that picked up the body nearly fell after hitting the divider submerged in the drain water'

Ismail Sheikh, Jesal Apartments
'My grandchild stepped into the black water while getting into the school van and was sent home when the school saw his dirty uniform'

Aftab Lakedwala, Rajveer Apartments
'We can't even use the water to bathe, it stinks so bad. We are buying drinking water and using tanker water for everything else'

300
Approx no. of residents affected by the sewage leak


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