April 29, 2021 1:53:34 am
Though the next phase of the vaccination drive for the 18-44 year age group will not start on its scheduled date of May 1, several BMC corporators have started getting anxious calls from people in their wards. From parents whose children are planning to go abroad to study and work or to other Indian states, to shopkeepers who want to get back to their businesses soon, all are making frantic calls to corporators seeking that they be administered “quick” vaccination after May 1.
Meanwhile, the corporators are also facing the wrath of those aged above 45 years, as shortage of vaccines have led many vaccination centres shutting down. While some corporators have successfully started centres in their electoral wards, many are helping people by taking them to these centres at their own cost.
On Tuesday, BMC Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal asked ward-level officers to reach out to all corporators and set up vaccination centres in each of the city’s 227 electoral wards.
BJP corporator from Goregaon West, Deepak Thakur, said he fields several calls daily. “People ask about the registration process and when will they get vaccinated. Many parents also call as they want to vaccinate their children who are planning to go abroad or other states,” he added.
Bandra corporator Asif Zakaria said that in the wake of the second wave surge, many people are keen on getting vaccinated. “But there is lack of clarity. People are calling to ask which centre is administering which vaccine. Since the Co-Win app is not providing required and relevant information, there is a lot of anguish among people, as they have to visit many centres to get vaccinated.”
In the island city, former deputy mayor and Shiv Sena corporator from Worli Koliwada, Hemangi Worlikar, said: “Many young people are asking about availability of vaccines after May 1. We are explaining that there is a shortage. Our party workers are coordinating with them to get them registered on the Co-Win app.” Recently, a vaccination centre has opened in her ward.
With vaccines not available in many wards, many like Sena’s Dahisar corporator Sheetal Mhatre have been arranging transportation to take local residents to vaccination centres. “We are trying to facilitate the process by ferrying people from our locality to the vaccination centre. However, if there is no vaccine to give them, what is the purpose of landing up at the centre,” Mhatre asked.
At such times, corporators like Mhatre are earning the ire of local residents. “People get angry, especially senior citizens have to suffer due to the shortage. In some cases, even after waiting for about two hours, they don’t get a vaccine. In my opinion, until enough stock is available, only people getting the second dose should be vaccinated.” Corporators like BJP’s Priti Satam from Goregaon East, who have vaccination centres in their own wards, have deputed party workers to help people who arrive to get the shot. “Ten party workers are managing crowds and maintaining social distancing at the centre. They are helping people to register and also arranging for wheelchairs.”
Many corporators, however, said that setting up of vaccination centres in each ward leads to crowding. BJP corporator from Borivali, Vidyarthi Singh, said that while there are 10 corporators in R Central (Borivali) ward, there is only one vaccination centre. “This creates a lot of problems, there is a rush. The centre can vaccinate 300 people… When we reach there, we face people’s anger. If the number of centres are not increased, there will be chaos,” he added.
Milind Mhaske, director of Praja Foundation, said that efforts of the corporators need to be appreciated. “Political leadership is very much active and involved in social measures. That’s the primary motive of being in public life. It’s heartening to see they do it when it is really needed. Last year, during lockdown, we saw them doing relief work… they were on the forefront. We need to acknowledge and appreciate this.”
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