Mumbai: With over 70 per cent of its total 332 corona cases being reported from slums, authorities of the M West ward (Chembur) are apprehensive that at this rate, the ward is likely to become the next Dharavi, the worst hit in the city.
Civic authorities want police to be given a free hand to deal with slum dwellers here, so that the situation can be arrested from further deterioration. On Monday, 24 new cases were detected in the ward, 18 of which were from the slums.
Of the total 332 cases, over 234 cases have been reported from slum pockets, with PL Lokhande Marg and Anand Nagar topping the list with most cases. These are followed by Chembur Camp, Siddharth Colony and Mahul village, the last already having been dubbed as the toxic hell of Mumbai. The ward is recording over 20 (on average) new cases daily.
"Since most cases are from slums, we are taking all precautions to check further spread of the virus. But all our efforts are in vain as slum dwellers are not ready to abide by the lockdown rules, “said a senior ward officer. "People in containment zones are also not ready to stay home and are defying lockdown rules.
We do not know how to make them aware of the risks. It seems things will only fall in place if some harsh measures are enforced," the officer added. Echoing the sentiment, BJP corporator Asha Marathe says, "I think the only option now available is for police to be given a free hand to deal with these people.
I know what I am saying sounds harsh, but the problem is, people here are blatantly violating the norms," Marathe told The Free Press Journal. "But they are unable to understand our peaceful appeals. I think these people must not be rapped twice but four times and it is only then that they will follow the norms," she added.
According to Marathe, the administration must take over all the private hospitals in Chembur, which will ensure that all patients from the area get treated here. "We have 25- plus hospitals in our area. The administration must take over all of them.
This will be helpful, as no patient would then be forced to go all the way to Kasturba and be shunted back," she said. Speaking about the issue, a resident said that despite all efforts by all stakeholders, there has been a spurt in cases. "Everything is being done here but still cases are rising.
Something more is needed to be done, especially in slum areas. Maybe they could be put in isolation centers or nearby schools for a few days so that the virus is not transmitted further," said Kritika Acharya, a resident.