With 7,000 Covid-19 cases and 435 deaths, the sprawling K-East ward, which is home to the international and domestic airports and sprawling slum colonies, is one of the worst-hit areas in India
Ashok Kumar | Clarion India
MUMBAI – It is located in the heart of Greater Mumbai, close to the international airport and surrounded by lakes, hills and wooded areas. But K-East ward also has a large number of slums with 70 per cent of the 8.5 lakh people living in shanties.
Sadly, the ward, stretching from Mithi river in the east to the Western Railway corridor in the west and from Vile Parle in the south to Jogeshwari and Aarey Milk colony in the north, has seen the maximum number of people infected with Covid-19.
According to the civic body, K-East ward has topped the list with nearly 7,000 Covid-19 cases (of a total of 1.02 lakh in Mumbai) and 435 deaths (out of a total of 5,730 deaths in the city).
Fortunately, the past few days have seen a gradual slowdown in the spread of the disease. Prashant Sapkale, the assistant commissioner for K-East told Clarion India on Sunday that there was a spurt in the number of cases from the ninth week of the onset of Covid-19.
“We concentrated on the slums and our team members spread out across these colonies, identifying people with high risk potential,” he said. “We isolated these high-risk people. The efforts have started paying off.”
In terms of wardwise growth rate of new cases, in K-East it has declined sharply to 0.9% (as against 2.1% in ward R-Central, which is Borivali, and which tops the list).
“Our ward includes the two airports – international and the domestic terminal – the Seepz export zone and the MIDC industrial hub,” he explains. “Many of the hotels around the airports are also located here, and a lot of visitors are there.”
Godfrey Pimenta, a resident of Marol and a leading activist in Mumbai, told this correspondent that social distancing was not maintained in the ward in the early days after the onset of Covid-19.
“I’ve seen hawkers in the inside lanes remove the masks often while selling their stuff,” he says. “And people including children used to roam around freely without worrying about exposure.”
Most of the police personnel are found on the main roads, but the narrow lanes in the slum colonies were hardly monitored, he bemoans.
Other activists in K-East ward also note that the focus was on slum colonies in Dharavi, and those in the Andheri-Jogeshwari belt and Govandi were largely ignored.