Mumbai: With Mumbai bracing for landfall of a severe cyclonic storm and an alert being issued for the city by the Indian Meteorological Department, the BMC on Tuesday rolled out an evacuation plan to relocate the residents of flimsy structures abutting the Arabian Sea at Ganesh Nagar, off Bandra Bandstand, as they are deemed to be at high risk.
PROHIBITORY ORDERS: The Mumbai Police, meanwhile, issued an advisory prohibiting the presence or movement of one or more persons in public places along the coast, such as at beaches, promenades, parks and or other places near the coastline. The prohibitory order issued by Mumbai Polices DCP (Operations) Pranaya Ashok states that there are sufficient reasons/grounds for imposing such curbs under Section 144 of the CrPC to "ensure that there is no danger to human life, health or safety." Mumbai is believed to be extremely vulnerable on this score.
Around 200 families, mostly daily wage workers from north India, stay in shanties and hutments built alongside the 1.5 km stretch of the Bandra Bandstand promenade. These hutments have been built barely above sea level, and often during high tide, these rooms get inundated.
A team of civic officials led by Assistant Municipal Commissioner (H-West) Vinayak Visphute, along with Congress corporator Asif Zakaria, reached out to the residents on Tuesday morning, assuring them that the BMC was taking preventive measures to ensure their safety, and asked the residents to leave the hutments and shift to makeshift shelter camps set up by the civic body in schools and colleges.
A BMC official said the civic body had converted a total of five municipal and private schools and colleges, including St Andrew’s College and St.Joseph School in Bandra, into temporary base camps, with all necessary basic amenities. The BMC has also arranged for BEST buses to ferry the residents to the camps from Ganesh Nagar. Similarly, municipal schools in other wards too have been converted by the BMC into temporary shelters. Special precautionary measures have been taken at K-west, P-north, and G-north wards, which are closer to the sea. The civic body has issued an advisory with dos and don’ts to Mumbaikars on Twitter and other social media platforms, asking them to stay put indoors.
"As a proactive measure, the BMC has set up camps in some of the nearby schools and colleges. We have spoken to the residents and told them to relocate to these facilities and stay put for at least 24 hours till the weather clears," said Zakaria. "The area where the shanties are located is a lowland, and those living there are at high risk. They were initially reluctant to relocate. However, we convinced them by explaining the gravity of the situation to them," added Zakaria.
The residents of Ganesh Nagar, however, have requested for time till 10 am on Wednesday, and assured the authorities that they will take a call about shifting to the facilities after ascertaining the condition of the tide. "There are at least 200 families. Therefore, we asked for time till Wednesday morning knowing the Cyclone will hit by afternoon. We will keep a close watch on the tides and will start relocating the facilities during the early hours of Wednesday," said Ganga Singh, community leader of the residents staying at Ganesh Nagar.