Santosh Hinde (45) had been at his job as a security personnel in a private firm on March 31 when the BMC declared the Worli Koliwada in the island city as a “containment zone” after four COVID-19 cases were detected in the locality.
On Saturday, five days later, the number of cases stood at 10, necessitating an extended period of containment of the area. While authorities have advocated that residents stay inside their homes, for Hinde, the sealing means staying locked out of his own house.
While Hinde’s joint family lives inside Koliwada near the Golfadevi temple, he claims that he could not get home in time before the sealing off exercise was carried out. The sole earner, he said his voice cracking, “We had no time to prepare, my whole family is inside. I have been living in my office since then. My family is distraught as they have little supplies inside.”
For the last five days, Hinde has been shuttling between his office, where he currently stays, and the barricaded entrance of the Koliwada to ferry essential for his family that isn’t permitted to leave the containment zone.
On Saturday, he and a colleague from his office arrived in a two-wheeler loaded with essentials. The police posted at the barricades supervised as he handed it over to another family member on the other side of the barricade, ensuring that precautionary measures for COVID-19 were adhered to. He would return moments later with a white envelope, presumably filled with cash, which was also handed over to a family member.
Assistant Police Inspector Sandeep Gavai, who is associated with the Dadar police and has been posted here since the containment measure was announced, said: “We have been telling people that this is not being done to inconvenience them. We ensure that they maintain social distancing while handing over materials. Things have calmed down a little now,” he said, adding that the first two days, the police had to face a lot of resistance.
Right behind Hinde near the barricade is Harish Shukla, a Dadar resident, who has come to deliver foodgrains and vegetables to his friend, Anil Nakhwa, whose family is stuck inside. While Nakhwa thanks Gavai as he receives the supplies from his friend, Koliwada residents are now learning to grapple with the sudden restrictions, and the consequent shortages in essential supplies.
The Worli Koliwada, which is among the oldest fishermen colonies in Mumbai, also falls in the constituency of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s son and Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray. In a video messages issued following the containment, Aaditya assured locals that essential supplies won’t be disrupted.
But Nitesh Patil, secretary, Worli Koliwada Nakhwa Society — a representative outfit of the local community — complained that the supplies have been irregular. “The local kirana stores are running out of stock. There are no fresh supplies. I wanted to buy medicines for my seven-month-old daughter, but the pharmacists said it wasn’t available. We are cooperating with the authorities, but they should understand our plight as well,” he said.
Gavai, however, argued that the police and the civic authorities have been more than accommodating to the residents’ needs. Two days ago, there was an episode where some locals had breached the containment travelling to Mahim by boat for procuring essentials.
On Saturday, the local Sena unit distributed essentials in the locality. Local corporator, Hemangi Worlikar, who was a part of the drive, claimed that the distribution was undertaken at Aaditya’s insistence. “Things are improving gradually. Supplies are far better now,” she said.
Seven km away, at another containment zone, at an upper middle class locality in Wadala, authorities on Saturday relaxed some measures, arguing that the residents themselves had decided to honour the restrictions.
“There was only one positive case in one of the buildings, which has been sealed. The patient had self-quarantined himself after returning from Europe. so the chances of a spread are a little less, but the residents told us they will see to it that they don’t move out much,” said a BMC official posted outside the premises.
Residents have come up with a system of placing orders on the phone and getting the essentials delivered at the security gate. Bhavesh, 28, who works at the nearby Royal Chemists, said, “They call us to place orders for medicines, one of our shop boys then drops it off at a table placed near the security gate and the residents collect it from there. Payment is done either online or at the drop off point.” As COVID-19 cases increase in Mumbai, BMC has sealed 241 areas across the city. Similar measures are expected to be taken elsewhere in the state as well.
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