Don’t be surprised if see long queues of waiting patients at hospital OPDs and private clinics in Navi Mumbai. Air pollution related diseases have been common in the city and a recent survey by Teri (The Energy Resource Institute), commissioned by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, just confirms that the air quality of the city is “poor to severe”. Adivashi reported long ago that a sample survey done by volunteers of Modern College way back in the early nineties showed that majority of primary school students in Turbhe area had respiratory problems. An entire generation grew up, breathing poisonous air!

The situation gets worse for asthma patients. An elderly man who came to Vashi from Hyderabad had to be hospitalized on the third day of his stay because he couldn’t simply breathe. Teri report says the main reasons for the air pollution are automobile emissions, dust, blasting and stone crushing at various quarries and so on.

Many a time, one witnesses heavy vehicles such as dumpers spewing thick smoke from their exhaust pipes with neither police nor RTA officials taking nil action. Even some cars are often seen polluting the air.

Another health issue of concern is the danger of leptospirosis due to flooding of roads. The skin disease is caused when human skin comes into contact with urine of an animal with infection. With the rising number of stray cattle and dogs with all kinds of diseases, the problem is bound to occur, doctors warn.

So, next time when you have to wade through the flooded waters, be careful!

The city is experiencing another major problem – this time from arrogant auto rickshaw drivers, particularly at Vashi railway station. The three-wheelers are parked helter-skelter making passengers run like headless chicken. This problem gets acute when it rains heavily and city buses run late. The net result is: people are forced walk home, fully drenched. The police are flooded with complaints, with little visible action coming. One can see orderly queues on days when traffic cops wielding lathis are posted at rickshaw stands. Else, it’s worse than free for all. Passengers grumble, local media highlights the harassment and sometimes the union leaders do shed crocodile tears. None of the political parties, corporators and officials seems to appreciate the problem this since they do not have to use three-wheelers to commute.

The `city of the 21st  century’ is increasingly becoming a city of garbage with uncleared muck piling up at manyThe city of 21st places. Adivashi noticed huge pile of garbage near a mall on the western side of the Vashi railway station on Sunday evening. Blame it on the lack of civic sense on part of citizens or erratic clearance of garbage, the problem persists. century is increasingly becoming a city of garbage with uncleared muck piling up at manyThe city of 21st places. Adivashi noticed huge pile of garbage near a mall on the western side of the Vashi railway station on Sunday evening. Blame it on the lack of civic sense on part of citizens or erratic clearance of garbage, the problem persists.

Grounds, grounds everywhere; Not a single inch to play! This is the situation in the city as the play grounds allotted to various schools are closed for public use, even when the educational institutions are closed. And this is the reason for children playing in their housing society premises, staircases and parking lots. Corporators led by Raju Shinde raised an alarm over the lack of grounds for public use at the NMMC general body. Schools use their grounds as their properties and even lock them and rent them out century is increasingly becoming a city of garbage with uncleared muck piling up at many for weddings. Shinde’s point was that the grounds should also be open for children in the neighbourhood, particularly during holidays and vacations. School managements say they keep the grounds locked only to prevent encroachment and stray cattle menace. Whatever is the reason, NMMC and CIDCO officials must find a solution to this vexed problem as often children are forced to play even on the roads.

Amid this gloom, here comes the good news that the police will install CCTV cameras at some 15 entry points all over the city. These will be in addition to the 248 ‘third eyes” installed by the NMMC in its administered part of the city. Police hope this will help in catching runaway criminals before they cross the city limits. The increasing menace of ‘Dhoom’ style bikers committing crimes like chain snatching has become a matter of concern for women and the police as well. The sharp cameras will help in reading the number plates and police can alert and do quick ‘naka bandis’ to nab the culprits, a senior police official says. Many housing societies, petrol pumps and lodges, malls and clubs in the city have already installed CCTV cameras, the official points out.

Talking of road crimes, the GenX seems to be more concerned than elders! At a workshop held a Kharghar on road safety, students suggested that the fines for jumping signals and riding motor bikes without helmets should be stiff – like Rs 1,000. This, they rightly said, would make motorists think twice before indulging in any misadventure. Signal jumping continues to a huge menace on Palm Beach Road on which motorists and bikers do high speed tricks. Once wonders if the CCTV cameras are of any help in sending notices to homes of errant drivers and bikers.

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This is the 82nd 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: mailbnk@gmail.com

B N Kumar

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