Following criticism from various quarters, Kalyan-Dombivali Municipal Corporation (KDMC) on Wednesday decided to rescind its order asking BMC and private offices dealing in essential services to refrain from allowing their employees, who work in Mumbai but stay in its municipal limits, not to return home.
Thane Guardian Minister Eknath Shinde said the move of not allowing entry to employees working in Mumbai to Kalyan and Dombivali areas has been stayed. “I have given instructions to the KDMC chief to stay the decision. It is not possible to immediately implement such a decision, as these people are engaged in providing vital services,” he added. The issue had also come up for discussion in the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
KDMC Commissioner Vijay Suryavanshi, who had issued the order said the move was being put on hold till an alternate solution could be worked out. “For the safety of their family members, we had requested Kalyan-Dombivali residents…. those who work in Mumbai, to arrange for accommodation in Mumbai. But it will take some time to arrange for accommodation in Mumbai. That is why we are putting the order, which had barred entry and exit into the region from May 8, on hold. This order will remain cancelled until we find a solution or accommodation in Mumbai,” Suryavanshi said in a video address on the corporation’s twitter handle. Several other civic bodies in Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) – Mira-Bhayandar, Navi Mumbai and Ulhasnagar – had communicated to BMC asking it to arrange for accommodation for such employees. They had, however, not issued any written order asking such employees not to return home as was done by KDMC.
MMR has nine municipal corporation areas, including Mumbai, Thane, Ulhasnagar and Kalyan-Dombivali, with an estimated population of 23 million.
The BMC employees The Indian Express spoke to said they found their houses safer than the hotel rooms provided by the civic body for their stay. “These hotel rooms are also used as quarantine facilities. There have been many reports of people staying in these units testing positive later. I don’t want to take a risk. After 12-hours of work and travel, I sleep in the balcony of my flat but at least I am home, which is a relief to my family. My wife and children are already living under stress and fear, not being able to meet them would cause further agony,” said a civic employee who travels from Ulwe to BMC headquarters at CST.
The Municipal Engineers Union welcomed revocation of KDMC’s order. The union had called the order unacceptable and said that about 30 per cent of its staff live in MMR. If they do not travel to Mumbai, BMC’s efforts against COVID-19 would get affected. A BMC employee who stays near Shahpur town in Thane said, “Travelling back to my village everyday has been problematic. The villagers have been taunting and since the last few days… they are threatening me and asking me to not return. This had started even before the order. From Monday, I will stay in a hotel arranged by BMC.”
BMC Commissioner Praveen Pardeshi, on May 1, had asked all ward officers to convince hotels and lodges in their jurisdiction to house civic employees involved in providing essential services. For the purpose, the civic body would pay Rs 2,000 per day to five-star hotels, Rs 1,500 to four-star hotels, Rs 1,000 to three-star hotels and Rs 500 to non-star ones. These facilities are meant for employees who come from far-off areas and who face difficulty in transportation.
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