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Mumbai: Worli front gears up for COVID-19 battle

Updated on: 20 April,2021 08:12 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Hemal Ashar |

Last year’s COVID-19 combat line readies for war against the deadly virus again

Mumbai: Worli front gears up for COVID-19 battle

The project on aviation and space at the Nehru Science Centre

Last year, as Mumbai geared up for the battle against Coronavirus and lockdown loomed, the Worli area formed a very important front in its fight.

Civic authorities took over the mammoth National Sports Club of India (NSCI) Dome space, inside the Vallabhbhai Patel stadium turning it into a COVID facility in April 2020. It has stayed that way throughout, with beds going up, from “roughly 550 to approximately 800 recently,” said NSCI’s Atul Maru.

The Nehru Science Centre at Mahalaxmi in the line opposite the Four Seasons hotel also housed a COVID facility. A part of the Centre was taken for it. The science hub spreads over 11 acres, with space for outdoor exhibits in the lawns, a science-centric play area for kids who can learn and enjoy the outdoors and at least 14 exhibition halls in different buildings.

That COVID facility though, was dismantled in some time, without a patient. The Science Centre had re-opened for the public in November 2020. At that time, the Centre officials had stated that they hoped at least one-sixth of the crowd they used to get before the pandemic, which is 200 people, would visit the science space daily. Now, with the recent re-opening of a COVID facility at the Nehru Science Centre once again, the hub is another Worli space, which has been taken in a grim scenario.

Shivaprasad Khened, director, Nehru Science Centre, said, “A part of the Centre has been taken over as a COVID facility. We have a very huge space and some staff are still working inside for maintenance and routine work. In fact, we have completed one project about India’s aviation and space journey, which is housed on the ground floor of the Centre. It is currently under lock and key. It awaits public viewing and of course the Centre is closed now, so people will be able to see this only when we get the green light to open, whenever that may be.” Khened claimed that the Centre saw “fairly good attendance in January and February this year, for the small window that it was open.” Worli’s third massive space, The Nehru Centre’s Mahalaxmi neighbour, The Race Course, did have its parking lot readied for COVID patients early last year with nearly 900 beds. The facility was dismantled early this year and Mumbai commenced racing at the end of February by adhering to all the guidelines. There is of course, no more racing happening, and sources say that there has been significant communication about the re-starting of a COVID facility at Mahalaxmi, between the civic body representatives and Race Course officials.

There was no comment from the Royal Western India Turf Club with a top official claiming this is a “sensitive” matter. We have learnt though that the horses, which were in Mumbai for the races, may soon be transported to the Pune race course.

A BMC source claimed that there was a plan in the pipeline for the Mahalaxmi Race Course, to set up a facility with “oxygen and ICU beds”. However, he did not elaborate on the timeline or details.

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