Following the BJP’s demand that the Pune district administration should set up Covid care facilities at by taking over vacant properties, such as hospitals and hotels, residents have opposed the proposition stating that the city did not have a “single Covid-19 case so far”, and if such a centre was established, it might pose a threat to hundreds of senior citizens settled in the hill city.
Pune MP Girish Bapat had written to District Collector Naval Kishore Ram on July 23, stating that Covid-19 was spreading fast in Mulshi tehsil and there was an urgent need to improve the local health infrastructure by adding temporary facilities with additional beds.
“Owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, administrations in big cities, including Pune, Mumbai, Thane, and Nashik, have seized private hospitals, hotels, schools, colleges, and other suitable private properties (to create health facilities). In Lavasa, Apollo Hospital, hotels, and other properties are lying empty and can be used to create Covid facilities,” reads the letter by Bapat, quoting a request he received from BJP Yuva Morcha leader Sagar Marne from Mulshi.
Lavasa residents, however, are seeing these demands as a “political attempt” to add to the “troubles” of the already beleaguered hill city, whose promoters are facing insolvency and bankruptcy proceedings before National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT).
According to residents, those who have proposed the idea do not realise that Lavasa city is a complete ‘green zone’ without a single positive case of infection so far.
“The protection and precautions taken by over 6,000 residents are remarkable, in maintaining Lavasa as one of the few coronavirus-free zones in Maharashtra. Among us, we have hundreds of senior citizens, thousands of children, and villagers; therefore, majority of our population is vulnerable,” reads a letter signed by Suresh K Goswami, on behalf of associations of residents, shopkeepers, and facility operations.
“…Therefore, we strongly protest the attempts to bring Covid-19 patients into Lavasa and turning this place into a containment zone,” read the letter.
District administration officials said a preliminary check was recently conducted to see if the area would be suitable for the expansion of Covid care facilities. According to them, the location is unsuitable for such a facility for two reasons: it does not have enough Covid-19 cases, and is too far from areas in Mulshi tehsil recording a surge in positive cases.
“A staff member conducted an inspection and it does have an underutilised hospital space with about 50 to 60 beds, apart from other open spaces we are using elsewhere to establish Covid care centres. Considering the caseload in different areas of Mulshi, however, Lavasa is not a suitable location to set up a care centre at present. Most cases are in Pirangut, Hinjewadi, and Mann areas and we have set up several facilities nearby. We have a 450-bed facility at Wipro, 62-bed facility at Hinjewadi, and a 500-bed facility at Symbiosis. We are about to open another facility at MES Rani Laxmibai Sainiki Shala hostel for girls in Kasar Amboli,” said Abhay Chavan, tehsildar, Mulshi rural.
Mulshi tehsil has recorded 509 positive cases so far, out of which 427 are active. Of these, 267 patients are presently admitted to hospitals as per the district administration’s policy to hospitalise only those with severe symptoms.
“We don’t need to set up a Covid care facility at Lavasa at the moment, but if the spread of the virus continues at this speed, we may need it in future,” Chavan said.
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