KDMC stays decision to keep out locals working in Mumbai

Mumbai, May 6 (PTI) The Kalyan Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC) on Wednesday put on hold its controversial decision to deny entry to local residents employed for essential services in Mumbai, which has reported the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra, after a furore.

Apart from KDMC, the municipal corporation of Ulhasnagar and municipal councils of Ambernath and Badlapur-- all in neighbouring Thane district--had announced similar decisions on Tuesday.

However, only KDMC has stayed the decision, which was supposed to come into force from May 8 and remain effective till May 17, during the period of the extended lockdown.

The announcement to suspend the decision was made on Wednesday by KDMC commissioner Vijay Suryavandhi.

Issuing an order, the KDMC commissioner had on Tuesday appealed to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and other establishments to arrange for the stay of their employees who travel from KDMC to Mumbai.

'Many COVID-19 cases found in Kalyan-Dombivli and Ulhasnagar municipal corporations traced the source of their infection under the BMC limits.

'Unless we stop people from moving between these cities and Mumbai, we cannot control further spread of COVID- 19,' said officials from both the municipal corporations.

Ambernath and Badlapur municipal councils have given options to their residents who travel daily to Mumbai to either stay in the metropolis from May 8 till May 17, or to avoid going to work and stay at their homes.

Meanwhile, several nurses and employees of the state government and the BMC have expressed their concerns over the decision of the KDMC and Ulhasnagar.

'What will happen to daily chores if I stay here in Mumbai for more than a week. My son is not even three-year- old, who will look after him?' said a nurse from state-run Nair Hospital who travels from Dombivli via bus.

'It is not an issue of one or two days. Everyone is scared of coronavirus infection. We feel safe when we go home and spend time with our family members. We can not simply stay in Mumbai. I am not even sure about what kind of facilities we will be provided if we choose to stay in Mumbai,' said a BMC staffer.

However, several health officials attached with these municipal corporations and councils have said that more than 50 per cent of COVID-19 cases in the metropolitan areas were traced to Mumbai.

'Some people returned from Mumbai have infected local residents, which has further stressed our already fragile health infrastructure,' they said.

Congress leader and Mumbai city guardian minister Aslam Shaikh said the issue would be discussed at the state government level.

'This is the time to applaud the coronavirus warriors.

The people who travel from KDMC, Ulhasnagar, Badlapur and Ambernath to Mumbai are nurses, BMC employees and other officials who are required to work in this crisis. We should be respecting their efforts.

'There are some places identified in Mumbai where temporary arrangements for accommodation can be arranged for people working in hospitals and other essential services. The state government will discuss the issue and decide further,' he said.

However, Shiv Sena leader and Thane guardian minister Eknath Shinde said that no such decision will be taken without consulting the authorities concerned.

Earlier in the day, Thane Municipal Corporation Commissioner Vijay Singhal suggested that similar decision--to ban entry of local residents workingin Mumbai--can be taken.

Kalyan MP Shrikant Shinde expressed the need for a proper staying facility for the people who travel to Mumbai to avoid further spread of coronavirus infection.

'Such arrangement can be made in Mumbai city,' he sid.

Millions of working class people commute daily to Mumbai in local trains and other transport for work from Thane, Navi Mumbai, Virar, KDMC, Ulhasnagar, Ambrnath and Badlapur. PTI ND NSK NSK