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BMC begins to withdraw after 90-day corona war in Dharavi



After what is billed as a major triumph in the 90-day war against the novel coronavirus in Dharavi, the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has slowly started a cautious retreat from Asia’s biggest slum which reported its first Covid-19 case-cum-death on April 1.

“We have closed two isolation facilities in Dharavi as cases have significantly reduced there and we don’t want to waste resources. Of the total 3,800-beds capacity in eight quarantine centres, we have reduced the numbers by 1,000 to touch around 2,800 beds,” G/North Assistant Municipal Commissioner Kiran Dighavkar told IANS.

These include 700 beds put up at the sprawling Dharavi Municipal School and 300 beds at the Rajiv Gandhi Sports Complex that falls in BMC’s G/North Ward, he said.

In fact, Dighavkar, said the BMC’s 200-bed ICU hospital in Dharavi is occupied by only 78 patients at present and the area has “ample quarantine and treatment facilities” available anytime for the remaining 23 per cent active cases, with few new ones coming up daily.

The heartening developments come after Mayor Kishori Pednekar told IANS on June 21: “The Dharavi ‘tension’ is off our heads now. We have worked really hard to bring it to this level and it has given excellent results with the local peoples’ full support.”

Simultaneously, the never-say-die people of this once ‘red-hotspot of the pandemic’ – which made headlines in the global media – are now quietly hugging the ‘New Normal’, despite the same congestion, overcrowded living and working quarters, serpentine queues at public toilets, narrow bylanes, stench and squalor plus the monsoon madness etc.

After the initial days of airily dismissing the pandemic, a sense of seriousness and responsibility is evident among the locals after they witnessed 2,300-plus cases and 82 deaths, pointed out Dharavi businessman Salim Memon.

“That was because it was impossible to maintain physical distance, isolation etc, due to the sheer numbers – more than 800,000 people crammed in barely 2.25 sq km. Now, nearly 50 per cent of the migrants have left, affording Dharavi some much-needed breathing space,” Dharavi Rehabilitation Committee President Raju Korde told IANS.

However, he says, it is time to wage the next level of war for redevelopment of Dharavi, which has been pending for 16 years.

“The government ordered the Integrated Township Project for Dharavi on February 4, 2004, but even after 16 years, and half a dozen governments, the project has not moved an inch. On July 20, we shall take out a ‘morcha’ in support of this demand,” Korde said.

Cheered by Dharavi’s success, Municipal Commissioner I.S. Chahal has sought to replicate the ‘Dharavi Model’ in public-private-partnership mode in other new hotspots like Dahisar, Borivali, Kandivali, Malad, Mulund and Bhandup in Mumbai’s northern suburbs.

As BMC top brass said, instead of waiting for patients to approach them, the civic body switched to the ‘Chase the Virus’ mode with the concept of 4 Ts – Tracing, Tracking, Testing and Treating – to finally curb corona spread in Dharavi.

Besides the corona warriors among health personnel, even the police, CRPF, civic staff, some NGOs and other social activists played a role in loosening Covid-19’s stranglehold on Dharavi.

Korde says that the people have fully cooperated with the authorities during the pandemic and “it’s now their turn to get a better life through redevelopment”.


Congress MP Rajeev Satav loses battle to Covid



Senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member from Maharashtra, Rajiv Satav, passed away in a hospital here after a 23-day long battle with Covid-19, party officials said here on Sunday.

He was 46, and belonged to the core team of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.

Satav had developed Covid symptoms on April 19 and a swab test turned out to be positive on April 21.

He was admitted to the Jehangir Hospital in Pune and as his condition worsened, a week later he was put on a ventilator.

After a brief spell of recovery, his condition again deteriorated alarmingly since the last week and he remained in the ICU where he succumbed early today

Health Minister Rajesh Tope said on Friday that besides Covid-19, Satav was also being treated cytomegalovirus infection and some additional complications with the help of experts.

State Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat visited the hospital and inquired about his health while Minister of State for Agriculture and Congress leader Vishwajeet Kadam was regularly in touch with the family and the hospital.

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Mumbai Police give ‘Friends’ reunion witty spin to spread Covid awareness



Mumbai Police have given a witty, quirky twist to the much-hyped and upcoming “Friends” reunion special, in a bid to create Covid-19 awareness.

The official Twitter handle of Mumbai Police shared a snapshot of the “Friends” reunion teaser and urgd everyone to reunite with friends only after the final season of Covid-19.

“‘Reunite’ with your F.R.I.E.N.D.S – but only after the final season of #COVID19 please? Till then, online meet-ups will �be there for you’ #FriendsForever #FriendsOfSafety #TakingOnCorona,” the tweet on the microblogging website read.

This is not the first time Mumbai Police has referred to the entertainment world to create awareness.

Previously they have tweeted with stills and dialogues from films like “Uri: The Surgical Strike”, “Gulabo Sitabo”, “Main Hoon Na” and “Stree” among many others for the purpose.

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Maharashtra keeps vaccination of 18-44 age group on hold




Owing to continued shortage of vaccines, the Maharashtra government on Wednesday decided to temporarily put on hold the inoculation drive for the 18-44 age groups, Health Minister Rajesh Tope said here.

The stocks would be diverted to carry out a seamless and hassle-free vaccination for the 45-plus age group category till adequate doses of the vaccines are made available.

The decision came after a cabinet meeting presided over by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.

“The vaccination for the 18-44 age group commenced on May 1. Till date, we have vaccinated 5-6 lakh people in that category, however, there is a shortage of vaccines,” Tope told media persons.

He said that there is a scarcity of both brands of the vaccines – Covishield manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, Pune, and Covaxin, produced by Bharat Biotech International Ltd, Hyderabad.

The current priority is to give the second dose to the 45-plus age groups who have already got one jab which should not go waste owing to delays due to shortages, he pointed out.

“Efficacy of the vaccines may be affected if the second dose is not administered within the stipulated time period,” said Tope, justifying the government stand to keep in abeyance the drive for the 18-44 age groups.

The government is making requests for more stocks to the Centre besides trying to source it from the international markets and the BMC plans to float global tenders for the same this week.

In a related development, the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation has announced ‘Walk-in Vaccination’ for senior citizens aged above 60 for three days from Monday.

“The Walk-in Vaccination shall be permitted for all above 60 years, all who are due for the second dose and all differently-abled people. The special drive shall be conducted in all government and civic-run vaccination centres across the city from May 17-19,” Municipal Commissioner I.S. Chahal said.

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