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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Mumbai’s vaccine centres set up arbitrarily, corporators say BMC ignored population size

But a look at the city's map shows uneven distribution, with some of the most populous areas having just two and the least four such centres.

Written by Laxman Singh | Mumbai |
May 14, 2021 2:15:33 am
Bombay High Court, central government, vaccination, door-to-door vaccine policy, mumbai vaccine policy, mumbai news, indian expressAs stocks run low, a sign at a drive-in vaccination facility at a mall in Navi Mumbai says no shots on Monday (Express Photo: Amit Chakravarty)

Even as it awaits adequate stocks of vaccines for Mumbai, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has been setting up vaccination centres across the city. But a look at the city’s map shows uneven distribution, with some of the most populous areas having just two and the least four such centres.

While the BMC has said it will set up one vaccination centre in each of the 227 wards in the coming days, corporators – the elected representatives of each ward – have pointed out to the disparity in allotment of the currently functioning 135 centres in 24 wards as on May 12.

L ward, comprising Kurla, Chandivali and Asalpha, with a population of 9.33 lakh, has just two centres. Similar is the case of M West ward, comprising Chembur and Tilak Nagar, where 4.36 lakh residents have to make do with one centre. At the other end is C ward in south Mumbai, which includes Bhuleshwar and Kalbadevi. Here, its 1.71 lakh residents can choose from four vaccination centres. Similarly, F South – comprising Parel and Sewri – has seven vaccination centres to cater to 3.73 lakh people. This area has major hospitals like KEM and Wadia.

The disparity is immediately evident at the centres where people are forced to crowd as they wait for the jab, unless they decide to hunt for a slot in other less crowded wards with more centres.

“L ward has a huge population and only two centres. I have requested the ward officer and the MOH (medical officer of health) to start vaccination centres in my ward. Also, they should ensure enough stock of vaccines at these centres. As public representatives, it is we who face the wrath of the people,” BJP corporator Harish Bhandirge said.

In Tilak Nagar, local BJP corporator Susham Sawant said that he receives daily complaints regarding crowd and mismanagement at Maa Hospital since that is the only vaccination centre in the locality. “There are a lot of complaints about the huge rush at Maa Hospital. No proper planning has been made to cater to the population. People fight at the hospital as there is no clarity on how many doses are available,” he added.

While the BMC has promised to open a vaccination centre in each ward, officials in private acknowledge that corporators who are influential and proactive have been able to wangle more centres for their wards.

Samajwadi Party Corporator Rais Shaikh said that BMC did not consider location and population while setting up the centres. “It is a very loose administration. The centres were opened arbitrarily. Those who can make calls to BMC officials have managed to get maximum centres in their wards, irrespective of geography and population.”

Social activist Anil Galgali said that ideally, BMC should have set up one vaccination centre to cater to 50,000 to 60,000 people. “To ensure that social distancing and Covid-19 appropriate behaviour are followed at vaccination centres, BMC should set up one centre for every 50,000 people.”

Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani said that the centres have been set up depending on the local situation and inspection reports of ward offices. “We are targeting one centre per electoral ward. The remaining centres are being finalised… We are trying to operationalise 90 per cent of these by Sunday. The decision to start more vaccination centres was taken to control the rush at big centres and decrease travel time for the people.”

However, corporators and officials acknowledged that until adequate stocks are available, having so many centres may give rise to other challenges.

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