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Six-month old dies in Govandi, locals blame smoke from dumping ground

With the fire in Deonar dumping ground creating havoc in slums in the area, locals have been protesting against the poor air quality and smoke-soaked air.

Written by Tabassum Barnagarwala | Mumbai |
Updated: March 23, 2016 12:43:11 am

The Baiganwadi neighbourhood was left shocked on Tuesday morning with the news of a six-month-old boy’s death, who had been suffering from breathlessness for the past two days. Mohammed Hasnain Khan passed away in a 100 square feet room where his parents and two elder siblings lived with him.

With the fire in Deonar dumping ground creating havoc in slums in the area, locals have been protesting against the poor air quality and smoke-soaked air. On Tuesday, the aggrieved parents blamed the smoke for the boy’s death.

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According to them, the baby’s condition worsened in the last two days. Hasnain was suffering from a congenital disease that constricted his bronchi, which is the main air passageway into the lungs. Since the fire broke on Saturday afternoon, his breathing became shallow, especially during the nights, when thick smoke from the fire settled over the area.

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“He was already weak. His parents had recently taken him to a hospital in Akola for treatment for 15 days and had returned only a few days ago,” said their neighbour Shamim Bano. The baby’s father, Sarfaraz Khan, a mobile repair shop owner, said that Hasnain required special care and a dust-free environment due to his weak health.

“But he died before his time. We do not want an autopsy now to understand what killed him,” Khan said. Two months ago, Hasnain was also admitted at Rajawadi hospital for treatment. When his condition did not improve, his mother Khairunnisa took him to Akola.

As the little body was taken for burial on Tuesday afternoon, Khairunnisa said that the smoke in the past few days and in January when the fire continued for several days had become so thick that several residents faced breathing problems and a few even complained of eye irritation, itching in throat and nausea. Visibility during early mornings and night also reduced.

Hasnain’s doctor, Avnish Shah, said, “We had conducted a bronchoscopy and found that the child was suffering from a form of pneumonia. It was a congenital problem. The smoke may have precipitated the death but his condition was also bad.”

M-East ward medical officer, Dr Sandeep Gaikwad, said that the child’s reports would be checked to understand the circumstances under which he died. “We have already provided the local health post in Mankhurd with a nebuliser for asthma patients. On-field doctors have been asked to attend patients suffering from any kind of irritation due to the smoke,” he said.

BMC deputy health officer, Dr Mangala Gomare, confirmed that an investigation into the case is underway. “The child also had a case of mental illness and was suffering from other health issues. I have called for his reports,” she said.

In January this year, soon after the fire had broken out in Deonar dumping ground, cases of acute respiratory infection had escalated in the slums adjacent to the garbage dump. Severe cases were reported from Rafique Nagar, Kamla Raman Nagar and parts of Baiganwadi.

Most patients visit private clinics to avoid long queues in BMC-run dispensaries, which explains why the BMC has not reported a significant hike in respiratory problems amongst slum dwellers. “But the respiratory problems exists. Coughing has become common now,” says Wakar Khan, a resident of Govandi.

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