Man operating centre openly reveals he is hand-in-glove with civic officials
The hand-wash-station-turned-juice-centre outside Nalasopara station
Multiple hand-wash stations were opened across Vasai-Virar-Nalasopara during the pandemic at a great expense by the VVCMC but these facilities have been encroached on by hawkers. All thanks to civic officials who have turned a blind eye to these encroachments. mid-day discovered that just outside Nalasopara railway station in the west, a sugarcane juice centre has been operating from a hand-wash station for the past month. All the taps there are missing too. The hand-wash station is also in proximity to an ST bus depot.
Abdul Bhai, owner of the juice centre
The secretary, ministry of health and family welfare (MoHFW) wrote to the principal secretary of the state public health department on March 16, suggesting the state government examine the situation of COVID-19 at the micro (district and sub-district) level because Maharashtra has reported reported a positivity rate of 1.92 per cent in week ending March 15, which is higher than India’s positivity rate of 0.61 per cent during the same period.
The Centre also asked the state government to maintain focus on the implementation of necessary measures, but the civic officials in VVCMC seem to have not bothered about the suggestions. Executive Engineer Rajendra Lad, when contacted by mid-day, said, “We had constructed a total of 16 hand-wash stations across Vasai, Virar and Nalasopara so that the floating population could wash their hands properly during a pandemic. But the local residents started to fetch water from the tank and also stole the taps and soap. Each hand-wash station cost Rs 3.5 lakh.”
Taps were stolen from the facility shortly after it was set up by the VVCMC. Pics/Hanif Patel
Asked about the encroachment, Lad said, “I had told the assistant municipal commissioner of the area to conduct a drive to remove the encroachment. I will talk to the officer and get the juice centre removed.”
Encounter at juice centre
Reporter: Did you get a licence to run the juice centre here at the hand-wash station?
Abdul Bhai, owner of the juice centre: Who cares! Do vegetable vendors have a licence to sit on the roads to sell veggies?
Reporter: Since when you have been running this juice centre?
Abdul: I started this a month ago, I’m just settling down now.
Reporter: Do you also have to grease the palms of officers?
Abdul: The officers know me well. We have been cooperating with each other. It is a private plot of land but the municipal corporation had illegally constructed a hand-wash station during the pandemic for health reasons. But just a day later, all the taps were stolen by unknown people. And several posters were pasted on the walls. So, I started a sugarcane juice centre here after cleaning the premises. After constructing the hand-wash station, the municipal corporation installed its board but it was never operational even during the pandemic. I cooperated with them during the pandemic, so why would the VVCMC not cooperate with me today?