Mumbai: Lockdown extended in Bhandup after infection growth rate doubles

Updated: Jun 30, 2020, 08:43 IST | Anurag Kamble | Mumbai

Decision after ward sees infection growth rate almost double that of rest of city

Pic/Rajesh Gupta
Pic/Rajesh Gupta

Fed up of people ignoring the seriousness of the situation, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has extended the lockdown in S ward, which ranks fifth in the city for most COVID-19 cases, till July 5. Despite Unlock 1.0, the ward was in lockdown since June 19. The authorities claim the ward still sees vendors selling in narrow lanes and gatherings of people.

With a high density of people in slums and chawls here, tackling the cases has become a challenge for the authorities.

S ward comprises Bhandup West and part of Parksite, Powai, Kanjurmarg and Vikhroli. According to an estimate, the ward has more than 15 lakh people staying here and majority of them reside in slums and chawls. Despite Unlock, BMC officials had enforced a complete lockdown in the area since June 19. But even in that period, 981 cases have been reported.

"The reason for rising COVID-19 positive cases is lack of discipline. There are few areas where lockdown is being followed by people, otherwise everywhere normal life is going on," said Ramesh Khanvilkar, a local resident and director of an educational institution. "There is no law enforcement in the ward, followed by indisciplined residents, which is why the lockdown had to be extended till July 5," he added.

S ward is the only ward in Eastern suburbs to be put under lockdown. The growth rate of patients in the area has been reported at 3%, which is higher than the city's average i.e. 1.7%. S ward stands 5th in terms of cases in the city.

Vendors set up shop despite the lockdown in Bhandup. Pics/Rajesh Gupta
Vendors set up shop despite the lockdown in Bhandup. Pics/Rajesh Gupta

'BMC didn't do much'
A local resident has alleged that the BMC is not of much help. Ganesh Varade, a resident of Ramabai Nagar said, "BMC officials were not prompt in acting. You can easily buy sweets or anything else despite the lockdown. Also, since people mostly use common toilets, the infection is bound to happen. But the BMC hasn't done anything on this front. In fact, there has not been a single instance when residents called for help and the BMC was there."

Sandeep Jalgaonkar, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leader said, "The BMC can't do anything about slums but they can do something about sanitisation. The quarantine centres are so bad that residents don't want to go there. Markets are set up here like on every other normal day. Crowds are not a rarity. Hence cases are on the rise." The current doubling rate of cases here is 24 days.

Bhandup West is full of slums and chawls
Bhandup West is full of slums and chawls

"The problem with S ward is population density, we can't do anything about it. There are many local vegetable vendors who come out for sale and run away when cops or the BMC arrives," said an officer from S ward.

Police speak
"As far as Bhandup is concerned, most of it is slum pockets. Due to narrow lanes, people are in close proximity with each other. Adhering to social distancing and other norms gets difficult. But we are trying hard to maintain discipline. People are getting aware and cases will reduce," said Shyam Shinde, senior inspector, Bhandup police station.

Despite several messages and calls to Assistant Municipal Commissioner of S Ward, Santosh Kumar Dhond, he was unavailable for comment.

146
No. of COVID-19 cases reported on June 19

148
No. of COVID-19 cases reported on June 27

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