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

'Modi govt's assault on dissent': Foreign funds of top finance NGO blocked

By Rajiv Shah  In a surprise move, the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, has cancelled the foreign funding license of the well-known advocacy group, Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), known for critically examining India's finance and banking sectors from human rights and environmental angle.

Misleading ads 'manipulate, seduce, lure' to market unhealthy harmful food

By Our Representative  The Nutrition Advocacy in Public Interest (NAPI) in its new report “50 Shades of Food Advertising” has sought to expose how seductive, luring, manipulative or deceptive these advertisements can be. Consequences of such advertising are increased intake of unhealthy food products that is associated with obesity and diabetes, it says. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Why's Govt of India reluctant to consider battery storage system for renewal energy?

By Shankar Sharma*  If having so many small size battery energy storage system (BESS) at different locations of the grid, as in the report from Australia (a portfolio of 27 small battery storage projects across three Australian states that will total arounds 270 MWh), is considered to be techno-economically attractive in a commercially driven market such as Australia, the question that becomes a lot more relevance to Indian scenario is: why are our planners not in favour of installing such small size BESS at most of the distribution sub-stations not only to accelerate the addition of RE power capacities, but also to minimise the need for large size solar/ wind power parks, dedicated transmission lines and pumped storage plants; which will also minimise the associated technical losses.

'Failure of governance': India, China account for 54% pollution-related deaths globally

By Vikas Parsaram Meshram*   A recent report jointly prepared by UNICEF and the independent research organization Health Effects Institute has been released, and the statistics within it are alarming. It states that in 2021, air pollution caused the deaths of 2.1 million Indians, including 169,000 children who hadn't yet fully experienced life. These figures are indeed distressing and raise questions about why there hasn't been more serious effort in this direction, putting policymakers to shame. 

New MVA-INDIA MPs asked to raise Maharashtra milk farmers' demand

By Our Representative  All-India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) national president Dr Ashok Dhawale and AIKS Maharashtra general secretary Dr Ajit Nawale have asked three newly-elected MPs of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA-INDIA) from the milk belt of Maharashtra Dr Amol Kolhe (NCP),  Bhausaheb Wakchaure (SS), and Nilesh Lanke (NCP), to take up the cause of milk farmers of Maharashtra in Parliament.  After congratulating them on their resounding victory over their BJP-NDA rivals, the AIKS leaders apprised them of the milk farmers struggle which is intensifying in the state under the leadership of the AIKS and the Milk Farmers Joint Struggle Committee, and requested them to support it. All three MPs agreed not only to support, but also to take the initiative in this struggle, an official AIKS communique claimed. Farmers in Maharashtra are currently getting as low as Rs 24-27 per litre for cow milk, which is being sold in the market for Rs 56-60 per litre, the AIKS leaders noted. The low price to farmer