Mumbai rains: Malaria outbreak hits SoBo; residents demand BMC fumigate the area

Just when it seemed like the sting had been taken out of some of the miseries inflicted by the monsoon on South Mumbai, with water supply and power being restored in many areas on Monday, there comes news of a spurt in malaria cases in Marine Drive, Pedder Road, Breach Candy. 

Lately, the city's pocket of affluence has been grappling with one disaster after the other. In recent weeks, there was concern over the rising number of coronavirus cases in the area, which is home to high-rises as well as heritage buildings. Last week, it bore the brunt of monsoon madness, with unprecedented flooding, trees falling and roads cracking. Now, several residents have tested positive for malaria and have demanded that the civic ward office undertake fumigation, to prevent the spread of this and other monsoon ailments. Local resident Mahendra Hemdev, who is currently recovering from malaria said, "We have never had so many cases before, this is unprecedented. Almost every building, from Churchgate to Marine Drive, has malaria cases." 

Ashok Gupta, a resident of Zaver Mahal, Marine Drive, and vice president of the Marine Drive Citizens' Association, has written to their civic ward commissioner and elected representatives about the alarming situation. He complained, "The entire Marine Drive area is infested with mosquitoes. Civic officials should arrange for regular fumigation of this residential area. A thorough cleaning of Wankhede Stadium and drains in the area is what is required. Could you please ask the departments concerned to take prompt action?" 

He told The Free Press Journal, the Wankhede grounds could be a breeding spot for mosquitoes and therefore, the association has asked the BMC to carry out fogging on a priority basis. "BMC undertakes cleaning of nullahs along the Marine Drive promenade but the cleaning of nullahs along the buildings too should be carried out properly. Marine Drive has a high population density, having around 90 buildings. Blocked sewer lines are adding to the problems."

Doctor Jawahar Mukhtayar, a primary care physician practising in Marine Drive for more than 30 years, said, "Malaria cases are being reported for the last few months. However, cases have increased in the last few weeks. Earlier, I used to get two to three cases a week but now, daily, I am seeing two-three cases. Also, most of the cases are from Marine Drive. Now, patients from Breach Candy and Pedder Road too are coming in and this is worrying. Malaria mosquitoes breed in stagnant water. In these areas, there are several spots where water has accumulated. The ongoing coastal road project too has caused pooling of water." 

A resident of the Al Jabriya Court building at Marine Drive, Haresh Sanghvi, said, "Though the BMC is doing a great job in this time of Covid, I was told that the ward has only one fogging machine. If this is true, how will the problem will be solved. It is necessary that the rising malaria cases are tackled urgently, as the situation is worrisome."

A similar concern was voiced by residents of Vishwa Mahal, Marine Drive, which has reported at least 10 malaria cases in their building alone. Swati Mutha and Meena Mutha said, "There is a lot of stagnant water at the hockey maidan at the Churchgate station-end. It has become a malaria breeding spot and the BMC should clean the area immediately."

A ward Assistant Municipal Commissioner Chanda Jadhav  said, "I have been getting messages from our ward corporators and accordingly, am asking my team to visit the spots where malaria cases have been reported. Small teams of five have been formed to address the issue. Moreover, we are carrying out regular fogging and cleaning of nullahs. We have cleared out waste, including branches of coconut trees, tarpaulin sheets and so on. Wherever there are complaints of stagnant water, we are ensuring that these areas are cleaned and the water pumped out."

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Free Press Journal