Mumbai: BMC officials run money-making racket at airport: Cong corporator

In a shocking incident, Congress corporator from Wadala Sufiyan Vanu on Monday alleged that BMC officials posted at the airport for screening travellers are running "a money-making racket" through a nexus with hotels turned into institutional isolation centres. Vanu has posted a video on Facebook, putting forth a case of a lady who was stopped from travelling abroad and was forcibly asked to get quarantined after she tested positive for Covid-19 at an airport testing facility.

BMC officials, however, said that they will investigate the matter soon.

Vanu said, "The lady names S Aklekar, was supposed to take a flight to Bahrain scheduled on May 8 at 10.40 am. The civic officials at 10.30 am inform her that her RTPCR test has expired and is invalid and she will have to get a test done again. She is tested positive and and is restricted from travelling to Bahrain. which left the lady distraught. She was asked to go for the institutional quarantine at a hotel nearby after that."

Vanu intervened in the matter and the lady was allowed to leave after giving a declaration undertaking. "The lady was asked to give an undertaking before leaving. After leaving the facility at the airport, we got the lady tested at a BMC hospital the same day, just two hours after the RTPCR test done at the airport showing she was positive. As we received the report on May 10, she tested negative. Who will take responsibility for the trauma she went through. So many people must be going through such an ordeal meted out to them by the money-making racket here."

Vanu alleged that this is a money-making racket where BMC officials show bogus rules to the public and them make them tested at the airport facility, after the passenger is tested positive, they are forced to go for institutional isolation. He has now demanded a thorough inquiry in the matter.

This is not the first time that such an allegation has been thrown at the civic officials deputed at the airport. In April, Piyu Udasi, singer-song writer and composer posted a video on Instagram which went viral on social networking sites, accusing a nexus at Mumbai Airport first "forcing" to get institutional quarantine and then asking them to pay a bribe to escape the mandatory institutional quarantine.

Udasi had then alleged that her brother who tested negative twice, requested the officials at the airport to test him for Covid-19, however, the officials told him that the seven-day institutional quarantine was mandatory. Later he was taken to a hotel named Sai Leela Grand in Andheri east, where his passport was seized and he was asked to shell out a bribe of Rs 10,000 if he wished to escape the quarantine.

Besides this in January 2021, The BMC suspended an engineer for illegally taking money from international passengers landing in Mumbai and wrongfully exempting them from institutional quarantine.

BMC officials, however, said that they will investigate the matter soon. "We will verify the matter. RT-PCR results don’t come out within two hours. We will try to understand what his grievance is and will do the needful. The Deputy Municipal Commissioner is already looking into this matter," said P Velrasu, Additional Municipal Commissioner.

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