Behind barricades, Worli Koliwada residents struggle for essentials

Laxman Singh
Worli Koliwada, Worli Koliwada bmc sealing, bmc coronavirus, maharashtra coronavirus cases, coronavirus india news updates

While the civic body has promised to make arrangements for daily essentials for residents, residents said they are struggling to get milk, vegetables and medicines as police and BMC had enforced a complete lockdown in the area.(Express photo by Ganesh Shirsekar)

A day after BMC sealed the entry and exit of , one of Mumbai’s oldest neighbourhoods, following several COVID-19 cases being reported from the area, angry residents gathered behind the police barricades and complained of being deprived of essential supplies.

The fishing village and two neighbouring slums were sealed early Monday. With four new cases being reported on Wednesday, 12 people have tested positive for COVID-19 from the area. Also, a 60-year-old man, who died on Monday at Nair hospital, has been found to have been a resident of koliwada. His report testing positive for the virus came late Wednesday.

While the civic body has promised to make arrangements for daily essentials for residents, residents said they are struggling to get milk, vegetables and medicines as police and BMC had enforced a complete lockdown in the area.

“This morning, I went to get milk but was turned away, as there was nothing left. Today is the second day without milk. I have a small daughter and authorities should ensure that we at least get basic things. Also, there is no arrangements for vegetables. Police are not allowing us to go out. The medical stores inside the lockdown area do not have sanitisers and masks. How can we protect ourselves if these are not available?” asked Nitesh Patil, a fisherman.

There are about 10 medical stores inside the area but only two were open on Tuesday, resulting in huge rush, alleged residents. “The elderly need medicines. People have to wait at least an hour in queue at medical stores since most are shut. The administration should make some arrangement for sanitisers and masks,” Patil said. Even those with prior appointments for routine medical check-ups are not allowed to go out, said residents.

There are two main entrances to koliwada — one near the Coast Guard office and the other at Worli village bus depot. Other than these, people also use two small lanes to enter and exit. Police have barricaded all these entry and exit points and are manning every movement of the residents.

Residents complained that BMC did not fumigate internal lanes of slums and old koli houses. “Disinfection was carried out only on roadsides. My house is just 10 minutes walking distance from the one of infected persons,”said Patil.

Residents also complained they were not getting LPG cylinders. “The cylinder distributors are facing shortage of workers because of which home delivery has been stopped. We used to go and refill the cylinders. Now, they are not allowing to out. I have to request someone else to collect the refilled cylinder and deliver it to entry point off the barricaded area,” said Rajesh Worlikar, who was waiting at the barricades with his empty cylinder.

Civic officials fear that the number of cases in the area may go up since most people use public toilets.

“We have identified at least 40 close contacts of those who have been infected and they all will be contacted and tested if needed. We will advise them to undergo home quarantine,” said an official.

Despite the palpable fear in the area, a policeman on duty said many people are yet to understand the importance of staying at home. “A person who had a stamp of home quarantine on his hand was seen roaming around in the locality. Somebody informed us and we caught him in koliwada and asked to return home,” he said.

Anticipating a rise in cases, BMC has decided to run its dispensary for 24 hours in the locality. “Contact tracing is going on. We are chalking out a plan to supply essentials to the residents and it may be come effect from tomorrow,” said Sharad Ughade, Assistant Municipal Commissioner of G-South (Worli, Prabhadevi).

The BMC has said that 146 containment areas have been sealed after COVID-19 cases were reported in the locality.

The densely populated locality is one of the oldest Mumbai villages. Over the years, many slums have come up around it. The population of koliwada and these slums put together is close to a lakh, said BMC officials. The area falls in the assembly constituency of Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray. Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar is also corporator from Worli.