Mumbai: Air Cargo at Sahar Complex in Mumbai is India’s largest cargo in terms of volume of shipment handled everyday and revenue collected. However, regardless of the coronavirus outbreak, a large number of trucks and tempos continue to ferry goods daily. Since the said cargo complex witnesses a large floating population, the residents in the vicinity have expressed their fear anticipating that it could have a larger risk of transmitting virus and endangering the health, safety of people. About 70,000 people live in Sahar Village only.
The residents have also demanded that only essential commodities such as food items and medicines should be imported or exported while other shipment should be stopped for the time being to avoid overcrowding. Godfrey Pimenta, an activist and advocate of Bombay High Court told FPJ, “The goods shipped here are brought via aircraft, which could turn out to be a vital carrier of virus, as the aircraft also come from Covid-hit countries. Therefore, though cargo is included in essential services list, the activity should be limited to prevent spreading of the virus.”
Nicolas Almeida, a resident of Sahar village expressed his anguish against the air cargo officials. He said, “Coronavirus entry point is primarily at the airports. Though aware of the fact, no preventive measures have been taken, the Sahar Air Cargo undertakes import and export activity on a large scale every day. There is only one entry and exit gate where 2,000 vehicles ferry the goods. Moreover, the loaders are not provided hand-gloves and no santisation or fumigation is carried out.”
Only after the concern was raised, the authority to some extent has started the screening of the people coming here and providing them sanitisers. “But why someone should be told, when the entire world is taking precautions by their own,” Almeida asserted.
Contradicting the claims, Dushyant Mulani, vice president of the Brihanmumbai Custom Brokers Association said customs and GVK are taking care of santisation. He said the movement of cargo will be little from Monday onwards as no international flights will be allowed to land in India from Sunday for a week as declared by the government. “Currently all cargos are given the clearance. Moreover, since the goods are coming from cargo aircraft and not from passenger planes, the workload has increased. Earlier, in a day about 2-4 cargo aircraft used to land but it has increased to about 12 aircrafts. However, all precautionary measures have been undertaken to prevent the virus spread and for the safety of people here,” he said.
Rama Mathew, Mumbai Custom Commissioner replied, “Three sets of preventive measures have been adopted disinfecting the premises regularly, providing sanitiser, and thermal testing of visitors. Moreover, to avoid any direct contact all officers and visitors are asked to wear masks.”