Coronavirus in Mumbai: M ward presents a new challenge for the BMC

Updated: May 20, 2020, 07:34 IST | Anurag Kamble | Mumbai

With a population of over 13 lakh, there have been over 1,500 cases here; corporators seek action soon or warn the situation will worsen

The infection has reached the slums of Govandi and Shivaji Nagar (in picture) but there are hundreds of people on the roads here. Pic/Rajesh Gupta
The infection has reached the slums of Govandi and Shivaji Nagar (in picture) but there are hundreds of people on the roads here. Pic/Rajesh Gupta

After Worli Koliwada and Dharavi, M ward is the new challenge for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), due to the rising cases of COVID-19 and a higher mortality rate. With a population of more than 13 lakh, the area has registered 1763 cases so far. At least 152 have succumbed to the infection.

Including Mahul and Chembur to Shivaji Nagar, the east and west regions of the ward cover an area more than 52 sq. kms. On Monday, Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal visited the ward, and took stock of the situation.

'Hunger and malnutrition'
Corporator Saira Khan from M-East (ward no. 134) said the main issue is hunger and malnutrition. "During normal times too, residents are unable to feed their young ones. In the lockdown, when there is no work, people are literally on the roads looking for food. If they don't have proper food, how will they fight the infection? We corporators try to provide food, but can't feed every person," she said.

Corporator Vaishali Shewale (M-East, ward no.142) said, "There are not enough medical facilities. We are demanding more testing, etc. but nothing is happening."

'Hunger is more dangerous'
The infection has reached the slums of Govandi and Shivaji Nagar but one can find hundreds of people on the roads here. "When our patrolling van arrives the roads get clear but everything becomes normal when we leave. It's a big crisis for us and for them too," said an officer from Shivaji Nagar police station.

Vada-pav, pani-puri and other eatery stalls are open here. "We try to get them to shut these, but the people question us, "will you be able to feed four people every day? If not then let us earn our living,"" said a municipal corporator. "For many here, hunger is more dangerous than the infection," he added.

Corporator Asha Marathe from M-West (ward no. 152) pointed out another issue is the transportation of patients and admission in hospital. She said it takes hours for an ambulance to arrive and the helplines don't function.

"We understand it's difficult to manage such a large population, but there must be some strategy. We have heard of the Worli pattern. It should be used in Chembur and Govandi too," said another corporator.

Another corporator also called for a strategy to tackle the issue in M ward. "The local representatives, police and BMC officials have been exhausted after working for the pastt 50 days tirelessly. Cops in Deonar, Shivaji Nagar, Mankhurd police station need more forces. More government officials should be on ground and a well planned strategy has to be developed for entire M ward," said Vitthal Lokare, corporator (M-East, ward no. 141).

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