**Residents expect relief from the Shiv Sena led govt., as the party supported demand of relocation of Mahul residents earlier*
*Mumbai | 1st December:* 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 NGT-a supreme judicial body on environment. *The observation on the toxicity of Mahul was made by NGT after villagers from Mahul Gaon approached the Tribunal who 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 our lives in the city, were all dumped in Mahul in the year 2017 who immediately started facing serious health issues including Tuberculosis, Asthma, cancer, skin related issues and paralysis attacks. The Bombay High Court in April this year and again in September directed the corporation and Maharashtra govt to relocate these residents to other houses at safer locations or provide them monthly rent. This time again Municipal corporation and Maharashtra govt. decided to flout 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 5,500 families who are living here 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-versa
While the residents continuing their fight on the street and in Court for safer housing, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan is organising free medical camps with the help of public spirited doctors to address the lack of accessibility to healthcare and affordability for Mahul residents.
We are also very happy that in the second free medical camp that was held today, a lot of people came back and apprised us of improvement in their health after the first camp. One such video testimony is attached herewith. However, unless the air pollution doesn’t come down, the diseases are going to come back again. Mitigating pollution in such a highly industrialised zone is impossible and that is the reason why the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board in their report on pollution in Mahul recommended that residential zone should be discouraged in Mahul.
Now, with the change in power in Maharashtra, Mahul residents have become very hopeful as the new government is led by Shiv Sena who earlier supported the campaign of Mahul residents but because of the adamant stand of the BJP in the previous govt, the party couldn’t do much. On the intervention of YUVA Sena leader Aditya Thackeray, 300 new houses were reserved for Mahul residents by MHADA but MCGM held the allotment of these houses by citing technical glitches in the announcement. Now that the new government took a bold decision to stop cutting of Aarey forest which was campaigned around as an issue of pollution, the real victims of pollution in Mahul are waiting for their turn to get justice.
A team of general physicians, gynaecologist, dermatologist, palliative care and paediatrician hold camp every week. We would like to thank all the doctors who have come forward for this noble cause purely on voluntary basis. We also want to wholeheartedly thank student volunteers, local residents and supporters from all over the city who are supporting this initiative of ours to make it happen. However, this initiative will provide temporary relief and permanent solution can only be attained after all the families are relocated to abundantly available safer housing for poor as per Court’s order. We hope the newly formed Maharashtra government will take urgent notice and follow court orders directing relocation of Mahul residents to a safe clean and habitable environment as promised.