by Avantika Khanna Pocha
Mumbai, a city of approximately 25 million people, with 41 % (around 10 million) living in slums, where a room 8 feet by 12 feet is considered a luxury for a family of 5 to 6 people, is dealing with the biggest crises it has ever faced.
Dharavi the largest slum in Asia is a worrisome hotspot for Mumbai, and has reported 55 Covid positive cases.
The BMC (the civic body of Mumbai) has created 29 containment zones in this area.
Ironically this slum where people live in sub-human conditions, has an annual turnover of 1 Billion US dollars, thanks to the leather, pottery and textile units that it houses.
Activist and social health workers are very concerned as it is impossible to have social distancing in an area where an average of 10-12 people stay in housing units measuring 250sq feet (there are 57000 such units).
The Maharashtra government has deployed a huge police force trying to control this area.
Approximately 2200 people have been kept in quarantine in this area, with the BMC supplying them with food, water and medicines.
Similar measures are being taken in all slums across the city.
All railway stations are shut as are all government schools.
Most of these have been turned into temporary housing for migrant labour, beggars and homeless children.
NGOs along with the government are trying to provide these people with a basic 2 meals a day.
The Mumbai lockdown 24/7 relief helpline was started on March 27th by a group of 20 young adults.
This project works in a way that those who call are connected to the NGOs and volunteers closest to them.
Because of a lack of funds most of the volunteers are local college kids (this is a good incentive to support ).
So far this group has been able to help 60 groups of migrant labours by providing them rations every week.
In some cases where the NGOs have been unable to deliver rations, money has been transferred to the closest delivering grocery store.
There are groups of volunteers who have come together to help the elderly who are living alone.
The volunteers are personally picking up and delivering rations & medicines for those who can’t move out of their homes.
These volunteers have essential service cards (for the authorities) and maintain very strict hygiene protocols.
Self –motivated individuals at KhaanaChahiye.com an initiative by Project Mumbai, are serving the homeless and needy, and have fed hot meals to over 50,000 people so far.
Team Mumbai Lockdown 24X7 helpline no 9319371656.
The Mumbai police is ensuring that all necessary goods and services continue to run smoothly and with strict guidelines.
You no longer have to go to the police station in Mumbai to lodge a complaint, you can do it on the phone, just by calling 100, and help will be sent to your doorstep.
The Tata Group of Hotels, that is all the Taj hotels in Mumbai, are providing free rooms for health care personals treating COVID patients. Other hotels have also volunteered rooms for patients under quarantine at a nominal price.
Zomato, Swiggy, Grofers, Big Bazar, Dunzo are delivering essentials to your doorstep.
DMart CEO has pledged 50,000 grocery kits to be distributed amongst the less privileged.
The TATA trust has donated Rs 1500cr.
It is heartwarming to see animal lovers all over feeding strays everyday.
The situation in Mumbai is almost dystopian for migrant laborers and the poor, but it is heart warming to see so many people trying to help during the lockdown.