Mumbai: BMC's own garage becomes parking lot for mosquitoes

Updated: Nov 18, 2016, 19:37 IST | Laxman Singh

Half the workers at Asphalt Garage in Worli have fallen prey to dengue, malaria and viral fever in the last two months, thanks to the mosquito breeding spots found there

Sources said these vehicles were abandoned here seven years ago and were never removed
Sources said these vehicles were abandoned here seven years ago and were never removed

Even as BMC officials go from building to building, penalising citizens for unclean premises that become breeding grounds for mosquitoes, the civic body can’t be bothered to clean its own house. At least 40 staffers from the BMC’s Asphalt Garage in Worli have fallen ill with dengue, malaria and viral fever in the last two months, thanks to the cluttered and dirty premises.

One of the mosquito breeding spots that officials found at Asphalt Garage
One of the mosquito breeding spots that officials found at Asphalt Garage

Asphalt Garage comes under the transport wing of the Solid Waste Management (SWM) department, and it is where the BMC’s vehicles are parked. But the outbreak of disease has left the department with half its total strength of drivers and cleaners.

mid-day spoke to three drivers who were diagnosed with dengue. However, fearing backlash from the administration, these employees requested to remain unnamed.

One of the drivers said, “More than 30 of us have fallen ill one by one in the last two months. When a few people tested positive for dengue, we complained to the G-south ward officers about the problem and gave them a list of the people who have fallen ill.”

On Tuesday, the officials from the insecticide department visited the garage and found two mosquito breeding spots.

Drivers are vulnerable
According to another driver, it is the abandoned vehicles lying at the garage that are the real source of the spate of illnesses. “The team of officials from the insecticide department found mosquito breeding spots below these abandoned vehicles. Most of the drivers live outside Mumbai, and since they finish their shift very late in the night, and end up sleeping at the garage. That is why they are more vulnerable to dengue or malaria,” he said.

A senior civic official from BMC said, “Scrapping the abandoned vehicles is a very serious issue. Water accumulates there and that’s where mosquito breeding happens. These vehicles have been here since seven years, but the department has done nothing to phase them out.”

The other side
However, Insecticide Officer Rajan Naringrekar denied that the workers were suffering from dengue and claimed it was merely viral fever. When this reporter mentioned that at least three of them had confirmed diagnoses of dengue, he responded: “Perhaps two or three or them are suffering from dengue, but the figure of 40 workers falling victim to dengue is not true. Our officials called these people and most of them complained about viral fever. We have taken blood samples of the all the employees working there.”

“We found mosquito breeding at two places — water had accumulated in the engine of an abandoned vehicle, and another spot was below the abandoned vehicles. We destroyed both spots. All the preventive measures were taken to avoid outbreak of disease and we regularly send two cleaning staffers and a sweeper to clean the area properly. We have now written to the SWM wing, asking them clear out the abandoned vehicles from the garage,” said Naringrekar.

Chief engineer of the SWM department, Siraj Ansari, was not available for comment. However, a senior official from the department said, “The process of disposal of abandoned vehicles is in the final stage. We are finalising the tender and will soon be able to phase them out.”

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