Skip to main content

Will new Sena-led Maharashtra govt help free Mahul residents of Mumbai's toxic hell?

Doctors giving voluntarily service in Mahul
Counterview Desk
As doctors keep pouring in to voluntarily help Mahul residents in Mumbai, allegedly left to die of the toxicity in the neighbourhood because of industrial pollution, they expect relief from the new Shiv Sena-led government in Maharashtra, says civil rights organisation, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan (GBGBA) in a statement.
Asserting that the Shiv Sena had supported demand of relocation of Mahul residents, GBGBA says, "Due the presence of refineries and various industrial units handling hazardous chemicals, Mahul, a fishing village near Chembur, Mumbai, was declared unfit for human habitation back in 2015 by the National Green Tribunal (NTG), a supreme judicial body on environment."

Text:

The observation on the toxicity of Mahul was made by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) after villagers from Mahul approached the tribunal, as they were facing serious respiratory issues due to high level of air pollution who in the neighbourhood.
In spite of such serious observations, the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) decided to forcefully rehabilitate poor citizens in Mahul after demolishing their settlements for various developmental projects in the city.
Daily wage workers, domestic helps, security guards, auto rickshaw/taxi drivers, electricians, plumbers, and other informal and skilled workers, who are responsible for subsidising the life in the city, were all dumped in Mahul in 2017.
Many immediately started facing serious health issues, including tuberculosis, asthma, cancer, skin-related issues and paralysis. The Bombay High Court in April this year, and again in September, directed the corporation and the Maharashtra government, to relocate these residents to other houses at safer locations or provide them monthly rent.
This time again the municipal corporation and the Maharashtra government decided to flout the court’s order, which further worsened the health of people living here. More than 300 people have died in a matter of two years, and almost everyone in the 5,500 families, who are living there, are suffering from critical diseases.
In the absence of public healthcare system in the neighbourhood, poor residents are forced to take to private hospitals which are highly expensive. With a monthly average income of Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000, Mahul residents are left with a difficult choice to choose between their medical expenses and daily expenses. If they decide to take care or medical expenses, they can’t take care of their daily expenses and vice verca.
While the residents continue their fight on the street and in the court for safer housing, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan (GBGBA) has been organising free medical camps with the help of public spirited doctors to address the lack of accessibility to healthcare and affordability for Mahul residents.
In the second free medical camp that was held on Sunday, December 1, a lot of people came back and apprised GBGBA activists of improvement in their health after the first camp. However, unless air pollution doesn’t come down, diseases are going to come back again.
The new government has boldly decided to stop cutting of Aarey forests. Victims of pollution in Mahul are waiting for their turn to get justice
Mitigating pollution in such a highly-industrialised zone is impossible, and that is the reason why the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) in its report on pollution in Mahul recommended that residential zone should be discouraged to live in Mahul.
With the change in power in Maharashtra, Mahul residents are hopeful, as the new government is led by Shiv Sena, which earlier supported the campaign of Mahul residents, but because of the adamant stand of BJP in the previous government, the party couldn’t do much.
On the intervention of Sena leader Aditya Thackeray, 300 new houses were reserved for Mahul residents by Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA), but MCGM held back the allotment of these houses by citing technical glitches.
Now that the new government has taken the bold decision to stop cutting of Aarey forests, on which there was a huge campaign around, the victims of the pollution in Mahul are waiting for their turn to get justice.
A team of general physicians, gynaecologists, dermatologists, palliative care specialists and paediatricians have been holding camp every week here. However, this excellent initiative will provide temporary relief. A permanent solution can only be attained after all the families are relocated to the abundantly available safer housing for the poor as per the court order.
One hopes the newly-formed Maharashtra government will take urgent notice and follow court orders, relocating Mahul residents to a safe, clean and habitable environment, as promised.

Comments

TRENDING

Top upper caste judges 'biased' towards Dalit colleagues: US Bar Association report

By Rajiv Shah  A high profile report prepared by the influential  American Bar Association (ABA) Center for Human Rights , taking note of the fact that “in the 70-year history of the Indian Republic, only six Dalit judges have been appointed to the Supreme Court”, has taken strong exception to what it calls “lack of representation of Dalits” in the legal profession and the judiciary.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Whither SDG goal? India's maternal mortality rate fall target 5.5% per yr, actual 4.5%

By Srinivas Goli, Parul Puri* The maternal mortality ratio (number of maternal deaths per one lakh live births) is a key and sensitive parameter used by health policymakers to monitor maternal health conditions in particular and women's status in general in a country.

Fresh efforts to subsume Buddhism within Hindu fold 'undermining' Ambedkar

By Aviral Anand*  From Yeola in 1935, when Dr Ambedkar announced that he would not die a Hindu, to Nagpur in 1956 when he converted to Buddhism, is a considerable distance in time. But, there was in him a need to make a public announcement in 1935 about moving away from Hinduism. 

Unlike other revolutionaries, Hindutva icon wrote 5 mercy petitions to British masters

By Shamsul Islam*  The Hindutva icon VD Savarkar of the RSS-BJP rulers of India submitted not one, two,or three but five mercy petitions to the British masters! Savarkarites argue: “There are no evidences to prove that Savarkar collaborated with the British for his release from jail. In fact, his appeal for release was a ruse. He was well aware of the political developments outside and wanted to be part of it. So he kept requesting for his release. But the British authorities did not trust him a bit” (YD Phadke, ‘A complex Hero’, "The Indian Expres"s, August 31, 2004)

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Reverse progress in fight against hunger? 15.3% of India undernourished: GHI

By Harchand Ram*  Every year October 16 is observed as World Food Day to celebrate the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. In the year 2021, the theme for World Food Day is “Our actions are our Future-Better Production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life”.

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam* In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

Global Hunger Index: Govt of India response pathetic, 'lacks' scientific empirical evidence

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ* Come 16 October – and the world once again focused on the most basic need for a person’s survival: food! The first World Food Day was observed in 1994, to mark the launch of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. Ever since, the day is marked to highlight the need and importance of food security across the world. The significance is accentuated especially in these difficult times like the C-19 povidandemic. The theme for 2021 is ‘Safe Food Now for a Healthier Tomorrow’, emphasising on the various immediate and long-term benefits of consuming safe and healthy food.

Failure of 'trickle down theory' behind India's poor Global Hunger Index rating

By Dr Gian Singh*  On October 14, 2021, two organisations, Concern Worldwide (An Irish aid agency) and WeltHungerHilfe (a German organization that researches the problem of global hunger), jointly published the Global Hunger Index (GHI) for 2021. These organizations have included 116 countries in the world hunger rankings.