Cuffe Parade watchmen blame Metro 3 construction for outbreak of malaria

Mumbai: Several watchmen working in plush housing societies--Dalamal Centre, Venus and Jupiter -- in Cuffe Parade are suffering from Malaria. Each building has between 25 and 28 security guards. Of the total, 10 watchmen of each society have complained of running high fever, headache and shaking chills over the last two months.

Durgesh Chaudhari (36) has been working in Dalamal Centre building for the last 12 years as a watchman. He said he never heard of so many people in this vicinity have suffered from Malaria at the same time.Blaming the ongoing Metro-3 work, just a few metres away from the societies, Chaudhari remarked, “The epidemic of Malaria is the result of the stagnant water and muck all over the place. The metro site has become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. I, too, was infected with Malaria thrice. Ten other watchmen from same building have been tested positive for Malaria. We are on medication and are worst-affected, since we sit in open spaces and are more prone to the life-threatening ailment.”

The Free Press Journal has a copy of the watchman’s medical report, which clearly stated he diagnosed with Malaria in August. Moreover, during the reporters’ visit, the Metro Cuffe Parade site was in bad state with tarpaulin sheets, lying randomly everywhere. The small drains at the entrance of the station was overflowing, a perfect breeding ground for the mosquitoes. When asked, labourers working at the site, requesting confidentiality, said, “We too not in the pink of the health due mosquitoes. We cannot sleep at night. We have no option, but to continue risking our lives.” Likewise, another watchman of Dalamal Centre Rajendra Pal (40) claimed he was suffering from Malaria. He too alleged due to the ongoing Metro construction, the nuisance of mosquitoes has increased. Pal said, “Although we use mosquito repellents, nothing seems to work.” In an aggravated tone, Venus building watchman Roshan Kumar Chaudhary (26), said he earns only up to Rs20,000 a month after putting hours of hard work daily. After being diagnosed with Malaria, he had to spend up to Rs6,000 in medicines. Besides, he said, he lost money from all sides in medicines as well as his salary was deducted due to sick leave.

Fearing for their lives, residents avoid stepping out of their houses after dusk. Robin Jaisinghania (52), a resident of Dalamal Centre and also a petitioner against Metro work at night, said annoyingly, “Apart from immense noise generated due to the Metro work all day, we are also going through a fear of Malaria epidemic.” He said, “The Bombay High Court had directed the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL), undertaking the metro-3 work, to set up a grievance redressal cell, so we could complain about the work, if any. However, they have violated the court directions and no such cell has been formed to date.” Alleging further, Jaisinghania remarked the contractor, Larsen & Toubro, is coordinating with the aggrieved residents here instead of MMRCL. He said how their issues would satisfactorily be addressed if their objections are against the same contractor.

When contacted, MMRCL spokesperson said nearly 350 persons work at the Cuffe Parade Metro site, but none of them was suffering from malaria. Besides, as a preventive measure, they have already been undertaking fogging on a daily basis, both on the site premises and nearby societies. Further, they said, “Anti larval spray is regularly sprayed on the work premises and on the identified places regularly. B care agency post approval by BMC is engaged in taking all kinds of preventive measures. Also, an anti-malaria medicine ‘Larigo’ is being distributed regularly among the workers at the site. In addition, one-on-one communication with each individual is held and also blood test are conducted at regular intervals.”

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