Spread across 32.5 sq km, the M-East ward is one of the largest in the eastern suburbs - large enough to warrant 13 corporators. It covers areas such as Deonar, Govandi, Mankhurd and Trombay, with a large percentage of slum population. This ward is also home to public sector companies and utilities like the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Rashtriya Chemicals & Fertilizers (RCF), defence units and other such set-ups.

Since January, the Deonar dumping ground has witnessed multiple blazes, leading to the entire Chembur-Govandi-Mankhurd belt being covered in smoke. Pic/Sameer Markande
Since January, the Deonar dumping ground has witnessed multiple blazes, leading to the entire Chembur-Govandi-Mankhurd belt being covered in smoke. Pic/Sameer Markande

One of the biggest issues specific to this area is the Deonar dumping ground, which was in the news earlier this year after a major fire broke out, enveloping the city in smog for days.

The mountains of garbage are several storeys high at the dump yard, which continues to operate far above its maximum capacity. File pic
The mountains of garbage are several storeys high at the dump yard, which continues to operate far above its maximum capacity. File pic

Deonar disaster: Mumbai’s oldest and biggest dumping ground has long been functioning overcapacity and has become a major health and safety hazard for locals. The dump yard is filled with mountains of garbage that are several storeys high. This waste consists of scrap material like metal, paper and plastic, apart from organic matter. All of this is a perfect recipe for a fire disaster. In January, the dump yard witnessed one of the biggest blazes that took days to quench, as new fires kept starting due to the methane gas released from the decomposing waste. The entire city was enveloped in a blanket of smoke for days on end, and citizens complained of issues like respiratory ailments and itchy skin and eyes. Despite this, the authorities are yet to take any concrete step to shut down the dumping ground.

Usurping utilities: The high concentration of slum dwellings in Govandi, Mankhurd and Deonar has also led to rampant theft of water and electricity, with local mafia controlling both. The authorities have tried cracking down on such illegal supply, but the local mafia presents strong opposition.

Druggie dropouts: This ward also witnesses a rampant drug problem and a high percentage of school dropouts. In fact, the two issues are connected. Locals say that the civic school in this ward is in a terrible condition, and the teachers are often absent themselves. Several kids choose to simply drop out of school and then take to drugs.