Mumbai: 60 percent of Mahul residents have skin disease or asthma trouble

Jul 03, 2018, 16:58 IST | Laxman Singh and Ranjeet Jadhav

Concludes report of 575 project-affected people who were forced to make the area their home

Mumbai: 60 percent of Mahul residents have skin disease or asthma trouble
Factories and refineries surround Mahul, tingeing its air with toxic fumes. Pics/Pradeep Dhivar

Mahul's status as a living hell, with its heavily polluted air brutally affecting the life of its residents, is not unknown, and the results of a medical report on the health of locals have proved just that. The report, prepared by NGO Vishwashanti Lokkalyan, is based on its findings from a medical camp held in June, where from among 575 Mahul residents, about 60 per cent were diagnosed with skin diseases and asthma, while 80 per cent were found suffering from eye-related issues.

The residents are suffering on account of toxic emissions by the refineries and factories in the area. The NGO had organised the health camp on June 16 and 17 upon the request of the Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao and Mahul PAP committee, who are fighting for the rehabilitation of Mahul's residents.

The death of birds is pretty common here, say residents. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
The death of birds is pretty common here, say residents. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

Relocation only option
According to the health report later prepared by the NGO, 575 residents had been tested during the camp and all of them complained about having cough, cold and fever. The report found out that about 60 per cent of them have been diagnosed with skin diseases and asthma, while 80 per cent have eye-related problems.

Speaking to mid-day, Dr Kishor Khushale, who was a part of the health camp, said, "Most of the people complained about eye irritation, asthma, cough, cold and skin-related issues. This is all being caused by the nearby refineries that continuously emit toxic fumes. I was shocked to see the residents' suffering. They should be relocated from this area as the health issues are only going to increase [if they continue to stay there]. The situation is worse in the morning when the chimneys of refineries release smoke. Bronchitis and other respiratory issues are very common among Mahul residents. Also, due to the hills on the other side of the refineries, the fumes get stuck in nearby areas.

Nandu Shinde, Mahul Resident
Nandu Shinde, Mahul Resident

Left us to die
An angry Nandu Shinde, who is a Mahul resident and member of the Mahul PAP committee, said, "The health camp's findings are alarming. They clearly show how people are facing a slow death due to their extreme health conditions. The government has left us to die in this area. This is a toxic hell, as we don't get clean air or drinking water. The construction quality of these buildings is also the worst. There's no cleanliness in the locality."

He added, "We had taken out a big morcha at the Azad Maidan asking the government to shift us from here so we have a better life. But unfortunately, no one is listening to us and we are dumped here. A lot of people have lost their lives after being shifted to Mahul."

Breathing the heavy stench
When mid-day visited the locality, it felt the same chemical stench that the residents have to breathe in each day. The quality of air is so bad that it's difficult to even breathe properly. During our visit to the resettlement and rehabilitation colony, we also found the sewerage and drainage lines between two buildings overflowing, and at many places, garbage was just lying on the road. This filthy environment is attracting another unwelcome element - rodents, who were seen scurrying between the two buildings.

Pramila Solanki, another Mahul resident said, "The government immediately took cognisance of the death of 22 people in the unfortunate stampede at Elphinstone Road station and within months, a new FOB was constructed to prevent any further incidents, but the same government is turning a blind eye to the life of 30,000 people who are suffering daily in Mahul because of the hazardous air and unhygienic living conditions."

"From the last two years, my widowed mother, who stays alone here, has begun suffering from uneasiness and respiratory issues, all thanks to the BMC, who moved us from Tarwadi, Mazgaon to this gas chamber," she added.

Another resident told mid-day that the water they get is also polluted. When they fill utensils with it, they can see a layer of oil on top. "The drinking water we get is also polluted . As we are lower middle class people, we cannot afford mineral water on a daily basis, so we have no other option than to drink this. My brother who used to stay with us developed rashes on his skin a few months after we shifted. He no longer stays with us because he feels the polluted air here will lead to some serious illness," said the resident.

The noxious air is affecting pigeons too. "On Saturday morning, I lifted at least three dead pigeons from our building. I think this too is happening because of the hazardous air. The death of birds is pretty common in the area," said another resident.

What medical camp, asks BMC
Speaking to mid-day, assistant municipal commissioner of M-West Ward (Chembur), Shambhaji Ghag said, "We are not aware of any such medical camp organised by any organisation since they did not intimate us. As far as the health of the residents is concerned, we have a dispensary in one of the buildings in Mahul, which looks at all sorts of health issues faced by residents. We are improving the facility day by day."

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