Where most corporators say: residents,who?https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/where-most-corporators-say-residents-who/

Where most corporators say: residents,who?

Residents of M East ward tell STUTI SHUKLA their representatives have ‘dumped’ them,left them to suffer without water

Meastward on the northeastern fringes of the city has a history of not re-electing a corporator. Public dissent arising out of continued political and administrative apathy may be the reason.

Only two of 13 corporators in the ward were re-elected last February. Over a year later,residents feel their new representatives have done little to address water scarcity and health concerns due to Deonar dumping ground.

The “most neglected” ward of the city comprises the suburbs of Govandi,Mankhurd and parts of Chembur.

Large slums in Shivaji Nagar and Bainganwadi (Govandi),Deonar dump,Rafi Nagar,Mandala and Chitta Camp areas in Mankhurd and civil townships of companies such as RCF,BPCL and Tata Power make most of the ward.

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The percentage of area occupied by slums — 79 — in the 33-sq-km M East ward is the highest among all 24.

Its human development index,as per a 2009 report,is lowest among all wards. At 0.05,it is below the city average of 0.6.

The ward has the largest marginal population and the average life term here is 39 years,much below the city average of 53. Infant mortality is also the highest in Mumbai at 66.47.

Jilani Shaikh of Govandi accused corporators of having repeatedly failed to address the most basic concerns in the ward.

More than 60 per cent of slum settlements here do not have a proper sewage,drainage and sanitation network. The large tanks stationed at a number of locations two years ago under the civic Sujal Abhiyan do not have water.

“Corporators are visible only before elections. Despite several attempts,I have failed to meet my corporator Reshma Nevrekar. She promised improvement in water supply but nothing has changed,” said Shaikh.

All slum settlements rely on over-priced tankers but BMC says providing water to encroachments,though old,is not its concern.

Cheetah Camp is represented by independent corporator Hanifa Bi (85) but the show is run by her son Mohammed Farooq,a former corporator.

“The corporator is never available for citizens. A project to lay sewer lines was started before elections but the work is still not complete. In fact,the situation here is so bad after the rains that the corporator and her son stay locked up in their Vashi house to avoid ire of residents,” said resident Farid Ansari.

Work orders issued under the local area development fund of Rs 60 lakh per year show lack of vision. The works mostly comprise improvement of passages to toilet blocks,installation of dustbins and construction of sheds.

Shivaji Nagar resident Mofid Khan said 60 per cent of work orders remained on paper.

“There have been instances of bogus work orders,the most recent being proposed installation of a borewell residents never wanted,” he said.

The other major concern of the ward is its close proximity to the Deonar dump.

Rafi Nagar slums that house 1.4 lakh people is on the fringes of Deonar,where around 6,000 tonnes of solid untreated waste is dumped every day. Toxics from the dump enter nearby homes.

A number of cases of malnutrition and respiratory illnesses among children have been reported in the area.

“Partial closure of the dumping ground is a long-pending BMC project. It is the responsibility of corporators to press for this and complete closure of the ground. But they never raise the issue as they do not want to agitate families living near the dump who eke out by selling scrap. These are potential voters,” said Ansari.

The only two corporators who residents say have done some good work are standing committee chairman Rahul Shewale (ward 134) and committee member Rais Shaikh (ward 132).

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While Shewale has opened up a large tract of land at Smritivan for an urban forestry project,Shaikh has increased sewer connectivity and sanitation.