With just three days to go for the start of Ganeshotsav, Dadar and Crawford markets have begun teeming with people and social distancing norms have receded into distant memory. BMC officials have sought help from Mumbai Police to ensure there is no crowding throughout the 11-day festivities that begin on September 10.
On September 5 and 6, hundreds of Mumbaikars flocked to Dadar and Crawford markets to make preparations for the festival, completely ignoring physical distancing norms. This has prompted ward officials to embark on stringent containment strategies.
There was a similar situation last year, when BMC and police staff deployed in the markets tried to enforce social distancing. But officials complained that the crowds were too large to control. With Covid cases in the financial capital showing a steady rise, BMC officials do not want to take any risk and have already stepped up containment measures across the city.
However, crowding at Dadar market has raised a red flag for health experts and civic officials, who fear that cases could start rising if people fail to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour. Additional Municipal Commissioner (Health), said ward officials or his team will visit these market areas and plan containment measures accordingly. “Besides this, we have already spoken to the police for their help in controlling crowds,” he added.
“Covid-19 is an extremely infectious disease. We have also seen cases of fully vaccinated people contracting the virus, the cause for which we are yet to ascertain. However, it is always better to take precautions rather than risk lives. In the first wave too, we had almost got a grip on cases by July 2020. But post-festivities, that is after September, cases started rising,” recalled a senior BMC official.
“Since Dadar market sells all the essential commodities for Ganesh Chaturthi, people rush there from neighbouring areas too. People need to be more responsible. They are not only risking their lives but also those of others. We have to take more precautions now, as Dadar also has the city’s largest flower market. So, a day ahead of the festival and even during the festival, we expect crowds at the flower market. We have no option but to seek help from police,” said a BMC official.
Assistant Municipal Commissioner of A ward (which covers Crawford market) Chanda Jadhav said: “We have already had meetings with the local police. Our team has been regularly visiting the markets in our jurisdiction including Crawford market premises. However, the number of people we can deploy is a handful, while there are hundreds of people, so such containment is not just in the hands of a certain ward. We need police help. At our end, we are doing our best to control crowd ing and ensure that physical distancing norms are followed.”