Mumbai: The BMC abruptly stopped declaring ward-wise data of Covid cases across the city three days ago, prompting questions on the sudden lack of transparency. The BMC senior officials, however, said they were not aware of the development.
According to BMC officials, wards are supposed to share details such as the number of positive cases, deaths, the number of patients who have recovered and been discharged, and the number containment zones with the civic body’s war room on a daily basis.
The dedicated war room then collates the data and prepares a graphic with ward-wise data in the form of a map of Mumbai with the BMC’s 24 administrative wards marked out. This is then uploaded on the BMC's website and is posted on the civic body's social networking sites, too.
However, this process has now been discontinued suddenly, giving rise to questions on why the disclosure of such data has been stopped abruptly. The last time the ward wise data of the Covid count in the city was shared by the BMC was on April 26. It has not even clarified about the sudden discontinuation in releasing ward-wise data.
"The ward wise data is totally different from the press release and the cumulative data that we share. I will check with the war room and department in charge, as to why the ward-wise data is not being shared," said Suresh Kakani, Additional Municipal Commissioner.
The civic body is already trying to address the anomaly in the daily counts of confirmed Covid cases in Mumbai, collocated separately by the state health department and the BMC health department. The difference in numbers daily had already been questioned by the media.
The BMC is out of sync with the state health department over data on Covid-19 infections in the city. This discrepancy has been evident since the day the state and city agencies started releasing Covid data.
The civic body, however, claims that confusion is due to duplication of 851 names in the daily count. Civic officials have attributed the discrepancy to the system adopted by private laboratories which have been permitted to conduct tests on suspected Covid-19 patients.
“The private laboratories report their numbers to the India Council of Medical Research (ICMR), it reaches BMC after a day or two, following which it adds them to its tally. The state government on the other hand not only directly receives the private labs’ count of cases from ICMR, but also gets BMC’s count.
This has been leading to duplication while collating the data,” the civic official said. Says Vivekanand Gupta, an activist from Andheri, "It seems BMC is fudging numbers. There has been no coordination between the state and the BMC since the very first day. There is no proper implementation of lockdown.
The number of cases has been increasing by the day. No proper food is given at quarantine centres. What more should we expect?” Alka Nathani, a resident of Sion, said, “Why stop sharing data.
Citizens deserve to know the status every day. At least, they can mention on their website why they have discontinued the ward wise list. I sense there is some issue within the department. The BMC is downplaying the numbers.”