COVID-19 in Mumbai: Dense population, tiny homes in slums defeat cops' efforts

Updated: May 01, 2020, 07:16 IST | Gaurav Sarkar | Mumbai

After cases spike, deputy civic commissioner writes to addl CP (west) to ensure stricter implementation of rules in slum areas in Versova, DN Nagar

Cops speaking to Muslim elders for help in spreading the word on social distancing
Cops speaking to Muslim elders for help in spreading the word on social distancing

Amid the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Mumbai, Deputy Municipal Commissioner (Zone IV) on Wednesday wrote to Addl CP West Region Manoj Kumar Sharma, demanding stricter implementation of rules in the containment zones between Bandra and Andheri, especially the slum areas in the belt.

These include Nehru Nagar (Juhu police station), Samta Nagar and Junaid Nagar (DN Nagar), CD Barfiwala Road and Juhu Galli (DN Nagar), Gaondevi Dongri, Gilbert Hill and Dhangarwadi (DN Nagar), Versova Village (Versova), Kranti Nagar, Anand Nagar, and Behraum Baug (Oshiwara). The municipal authority observed "that there is no fall in the rate of positively tested patients and are rather increasing. It appears that existing lockdown measures are inadequate," the communication said.

It asked local authorities to ensure that the localities, local pockets and chawls are strictly sealed and locked down to have effective control on spreading Coronavirus in these localities.

"This office has frequently informed senior inspectors of respective police stations regarding containment of areas in their respective jurisdictions on a day to day basis as and when positive cases are traced in particular localities," the letter read.

Sharma told mid-day that "the police have already increased patrolling in these areas and deployed more number of officials."

'Lack of individual toilets'

DCP Abhishek Trimukhe said, "We have barricaded these designated red zones and are ensuring that there is limited access. Only the government ration shops and medicine shops are allowed to be kept open. All other shops in red zones will remain closed. However, the main challenge in these slum pockets is that there are no independent toilets within the red zone itself. There needs to be a toilet facility otherwise people will keep venturing out of their homes to use the toilet. How can we keep denying people the need to use the toilet?"

Cops make the rounds of slum areas every day
Cops make the rounds of slum areas every day

He pointed out: "There is a heavy space constraint in these slum areas, as opposed to building societies, where containment is very good. The lanes are very narrow in some slum pockets and the population density is high."

Identification system required

Trimukhe said that the police had asked BMC to have some sort of identification procedure for people who are residents of these red zones. "Since the population of these areas is very high, a designated identification system would make it easier to identify and segregate people," he said adding that community meetings have been held with residents to explain the guidelines to them.

'Can't sit inside tiny homes all day'

Senior PI of Oshiwara police station Dayanand Bangar echoed Trimukhe's concerns. "People are always saying that they are either going to get medicines or buy milk but the biggest problem is that of common toilets," he said.

"Residents of these slum areas, who live in a 10x10 house, cannot sit at home all day," he said, adding that in areas like Kranti Nagar, there is zero growth of COVID-19 cases. "Even though this is a red zone, there are currently no positive patients here.

Seven people, who had gone for treatment, and are now back."

No. of containment zones in city

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