With nine of the 13 electoral constituencies in the ward having slum pockets,the lack of affordable healthcare is a major concern in S ward,which has an estimated population of 12 lakh living across Vikhroli,Kanjurmarg,Bhandup and Nahur.
Spread over 64 sq km and bordering Sanjay Gandhi National Park on its east and Arabian sea on its west,S ward is one of the largest wards in Mumbai.
While the polio census of 2007 pegs the population in the ward at 6.91 lakh,activists claim it has touched 12 lakh. Low and middle-income residents have to travel as far as Ghatkopar in N ward to avail of affordable medical facilities.
Nilesh Patil,Advanced Locality Management (ALM) member from S-Ward,says,Despite being one of the largest civic wards in Mumbai,S -ward does not have a full-fledged municipal hospital to provide affordable health services to local residents. There are two civic hospitals which provide maternity care,but apart from that,locals have to go to all the way to Rajawadi hospital in Ghatkopar for treatment. Only those with medical insurance cover can afford big private hospitals that we have in the ward.
According to Patil,the existing development plan has places earmarked for setting up of municipal hospitals,but the BMC is not doing anything.
While residents complain about the lack of health services,Anisha A Majgaonkar,a councillor from Nardas Nagar in Bhandup west,says a civic hospital of international standards will soon be built in Bhandup. The BMC has designated space for a super-specialty civic hospital,on the lines of KEM hospital,which will be built behind Fortis Hospital along Mulund Goregaon Link Road in Bhandup west. An amenity plot measuring 18,000 sq metres has been earmarked for the 500-bed facility coming up soon. We expect tender process to begin this month, says Majgaonkar.
Apart from lack of health facilities,improper garbage segregation and collection is another civic problem in the ward. Segregation and collection of garbage is not carried out as per guidelines of the civic body. Ward officers should be strict with residents when it comes to segregating waste. While there are specific guidelines for this activity,there is hardly any check on compliance, says Patil.
Another problem that plagues the ward is the lack of manhole covers. According to ALM members,most of the manholes near railway stations have broken covers,
posing a constant threat to daily commuters.
Yet another issue is rampant illegal construction across the ward. According to an estimate by local councillor Suresh H Koparkar from Milind Nagar,60-70 per cent of the area between Bhandup west to Powai comprises illegal hutments. The civic body is not pro-active in demolition drives. Now with limited or no police protection at times,demolition activity has become even more difficult, he says.
Ashok Patil,municipal councillor from Kanjur Nagar,says,Residents allege that the civic body is hand-in-glove with those carrying out illegal constructions. This year,a lot of illegal slums have come up not just in Kanjur Nagar but throughout S ward. There have been many complaints against the engineers in charge,but the civic body has not taken any action.