Dharavi, the largest slum of Asia, has now become a hotspot of Mumbai with the COVID-19 cases increasing rapidly. Within a span of 28-30 days the number of positive cases reached 300.
Apart from being the largest slum of Asia, Dharavi is one of the most densely populated areas. Nearly ten lakh people live in shanties made up of tin and concrete within an approximate area of 2.5 sq km.
The population is the root cause and concern for the authorities during these critical times. The spread of the coronavirus can create havoc in this region if precautions and measures are not taken.
Adjoining the slum region, there are SRA (Slum Rehabilitation Authority) and MHADA buildings that are also prone to the spread of the virus. In an exclusive interview with MBTV, Varsha Gaikwad, MLA, Dharavi, explained how the authorities are containing the spread of coronavirus in this region.
There are three major challenges in Dharavi. Let us know the measures being adopted by the authorities to manage these:
1. Social distancing- Social distancing is a challenge since the area is densely populated. Houses are small and people residing in them are way more than required. In these circumstances, awareness plays a key role.
"Creating awareness was a challenge since 80% houses are less than 100 sqft, so approximately 5-10 people are accommodating in a 50 sqft area. We are distributing sanitisers and masks. Along with BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation) we have sanitised the lanes and houses. With the help of the authorities we have distributed 25,000 face masks and 60,000 sanitisers to every household in Dharavi" explains Varsha.
2. Community toilets- Another major biggest issue in Dharavi are the common public toilets. There are approximately 160 toilets and one seat is used by 250-300 people per day.
Regarding common toilets Varsha says "People using public toilets are sanitised as soon as they come out. A number of people have helped us to stop community spread via public toilets. We are not using mobile toilets. Only built toilets are in use and these are sanitised regularly. We have also provided sprays to both males and females using respective toilets."
3. Food Distribution- Delivering food packets to every home is the third major challenge here as the population is very large. Dharavi has 37 quarantine areas and 5 hotspots and distribution of food is not only important but crucial as well. Varsha explains how they are working with BMC and the authorities where they are providing dry ration and cooked food.
"We started by distributing dry rations. We provide these to 500 people at their homes. In the last 20 days around 10,000 people have received dry rations. We also have 19 centralised kitchens where food is cooked for 12,000-13, 000 people daily. Some of these are in Rajiv Gandhi Colony, Ashok Mill, Madina Masjid, Kutti Wadi, AKG Nagar, Lal Gangadhar Chawl and others. The food is distributed to the daily migrant workers. Food distribution was started with 5000 people and today we provide to 12,000 people. Ration cardholders are provided with ration. There are 30,000 orange cardholders who will soon receive rations."
Apart from Dharavi, the authorities are providing relief facilities and taking measures to stall the spread of coronavirus in the SRA buildings closeby. All basic needs like sanitisers and dry rations are provided at their doorsteps. Authorities have advised the people to stay isolated and remain quarantined.
The government and the authorities along with local bodies are trying their best to provide the basic needs at their doorsteps as staying indoors and remaining isolated is the only effective way to battle this virus.
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