There seems to be no rest or peace even after death in this so-called planned city. While on one hand, the mortuary at the civic hospital seems to be overflowing with unclaimed bodies, the condition at the Turbhe crematorium is pathetic.
The sad state of affairs at the crematorium came to light when none other than the former chairman of the powerful Standing Committee Ramesh Shinde was being cremated last week.
With the exhaust fans going dead, the entire area was full of smoke and political workers immediately raised an alarm. Guardian Minister Ganesh Naik, MP Sanjeev Naik and Mayor Sagar Naik, all had to experience the pollution. This was not the first time that the smoke from flaming bodies caused problems, local people said.
The thick pollution has also become an irritant for the neighbouring APMC’s wholesale fruit markets. Another issue that came to the fore was the fact that the diesel crematoriums here have been shut for long.
At NMMC hospital, the mortuary is in a bad shape with the piling up of unclaimed bodies. The hospital has a capacity to keep 30 bodies in its morgue drawers, but with the arrival of many more bodies, they are kept even on the floor. The authorities seem to have been affected by legal hurdles in disposing off the rotting bodies as the mortuary is supposed to wait for 30 days before cremating or burying them. But in case of accident related bodies, the mortuary is expected to wait for claimants. Mayor Sagar Naik said he will have the issue examined.
Turning to the condition of people living in Navi Mumbai, their health issues continue to plague them. Dengue cases have been growing unabated along with malaria. The municipal health officials have been asking people through corporators not to allow fresh water logging in housing colonies. But ongoing rampant and even reckless construction has become the cause of a major headache for the health officials who continue to face the public wrath. “It is easy to complain against us. But the people must complain against the contractors for not taking proper care,” a health official said.
One of the age-old problems of this city is that of erratic traffic and absence of disciplined and proper parking facilities in the city. Adivashi is happy that the local media has actively taken up the issue highlighting the problems being faced by not only pedestrians, but motorists themselves!
For instance, the entry to the NMMC hospital is blocked more often than not by vehicles parked on the road. The civic authorities have not made any parking arrangements nor are the traffic police effectively checking zig-zag parking. The parking lot built by NMMC on drainage opposite the shopping complexes on Vashi-Turbhe road continues to be shut with vehicles overflowing from the existing authorised parking places. One wonders as to why and how long the officials will keep their eyes shut to this problem.
Adivashi has been highlighting the issue of project affected people and the so-called unauthorised construction under the guise of need-based construction. These building have been attracting very high property taxes. The civic body levies thrice the normal tax on buildings that do not have occupancy certificates. The planning department cannot obviously issue OCs for building constructed without any approved plans. PAP representatives have now asked NMMC to reduce the tax burden. Last week has also witnessed the rise of another Naik on the socio-political horizon. The occasion was the birthday celebrations of Ganesh Naik’s late brother’s son Vaibhav Naik. The road junctions and street corners were full of hoardings, many illegal. The failure of the officials to take action against the ugly show of power has raised many eyebrows.
The proposed airport issue will continue to hit the headline until the construction of the project starts. CIDCO has made one last ditch effort to try and convince the project affected people from Raigad district to accept the rehabilitation package. CIDCO has now sent a strong message “take it or leave it”, hardening its previous stand “airport now or never”. The package for land acquisition is the best in the country, as reported by Adivashi earlier.
This is the 49th in a series on Navi Mumbai by veteran media professional B N Kumar, a long-time resident of Mumbai’s twin city. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
B N Kumar