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Environment Health

Mahul needs you

The residents who had been ‘rehabilitated’ to Mahul, today languish in apathetic conditions facing life-threatening diseases

Sabrangindia 27 Nov 2019

Mahul residents

While the BJP and the Maha Vikas Aghadi were performing political acrobatics in Maharashtra, doctors were helping people of Mahul, often dubbed a ‘gas chamber’, fight for their lives.

The Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan (GBGBA) which has been fighting tooth and nail to get justice for the victims in Mahul, organized a medical camp there on November 17, 2019, where doctors voluntarily joined in to treat patients who are suffering from life-threatening diseases like asthma, heart and lung problems, skin infections and cancer. These victims of the ignorant government have been left to fend for themselves – whether it be housing, food, water or medicines.


The Mahul issue

Mahul, not very fondly referred to as a ‘toxic hell’ and a ‘gas chamber’ by its residents, is a small fishing village in the Trombay area.

Not by choice, the residents who were once to be only temporary inhabitants in the area, have now been left to become permanent residents and rot to death.

After the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) razed homes along the Tansa water pipeline, it has sent over 5,500 economically backward families from allegedly ‘illegal’ settlements in Ghatkopar, Chembur, Powai, Vakola and Bandra (East), to slowly perish in Mahul.

Their homes were razed for urban infrastructure projects worth crores and they were sent to a heavily industrialized area with refineries and chemical factories belonging to companies like Hindustan Petroleum, Bharat Petroleum, Sea Lord Containers, Aegis Logistics, Tata Power and Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers (RCF).

Reports by the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, National Green Tribunal, Comptroller and Auditor General and KEM Hospital have all come to the same conclusion. Mahul is uninhabitable.

Reports have found the presence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like benzene, styrene and toluene among others. These VOCs are mainly known to attack the central nervous system, causing irritation in the eyes, nose and throat.

The levels of toluene diisocyanate, released by the Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum, have been found to be the highest – 0.169 parts per million, way higher than the permissible levels of 0.21 ppm. Toluene is notorious for affecting the kidney, liver and impairing the immune system, The Indian Express reported.

The report by KEM hospital found that 67.1 per cent of Mahul’s population suffered from breathlessness, 86.6 per cent had eye irritation, and 84.5 per cent felt a choking sensation. The NGT report has clearly stated that there is a perceptible threat to the health of residents in Mahul.

The latest report by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) has recommended that Mahul be declared an ‘Air Control Region’, with no residential premises allowed in the vicinity of the factories.

Housed at the Eversmile Project Affected Person (PAP) colony, the residents challenged their allotments after they started suffering from tuberculosis, respiratory infections, skin infections and other health issues due to carcinogenic air pollution. Mahul victims are rapidly losing hair and the corrosive water and air is acting on their skin with dark patches that constantly itch.

The water that comes through a pipeline that runs parallel to a sewage pipeline. Residents complain that the water consumption causes stomach and throat infections. They are cut-off from basic facilities – schools, railway stations and hospitals.

The course of their struggle for justice has seen over 256 deaths.


No compensation

Just when you’d think that things couldn’t get any worse for Mahul residents, India’s richest civic body, the BMC in October this year, filed a second petition in the Supreme Court, challenging an order by the Bombay HC over the rehabilitation of over 30,000 Mahul residents, Times Now reported.

In September this year, the Bombay HC had ordered the BMC to pay a compensation of Rs. 15,000 as rent to residents or provide them alternate accommodation. The BMC states a report by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) which states that the pollution levels have going down in recent years. However, this report contradicts the ones by the NGT and KEM hospital that say the residents must be shifted out immediately.

It told the SC that the rent mentioned to be given to the affected residents would put a burden of Rs. 3,000 crore on the exchequer. It is complaining that the directive of the SC is letting the actual polluters, the refineries and industries go scot free, the Mumbai Mirror reported.

Bilal Khan who is leading the movement to get justice for Mahul’s residents, said that the BMC is misleading the court by putting out such a huge expense statement. He told the Mumbai Mirror that the BMC has fixed deposits of Rs. 61,000 crore and gets Rs. 4,000 crore as annual interest on them, going on to add, “It is ready to spend Rs. 3,000 crore on a statue, but not to save the lives of citizens.”


Our appeal

We have and always will stand by the victims of Mahul who have been shortchanged only because of their economic backgrounds. With average family incomes of Rs. 15,000 – Rs. 20,000 per month and even lesser, it has become extremely difficult for the residents to cope up with mounting health expenses. It is worrying that residents of the Eversmile colony continue to live in unbearably sorrowful circumstances, even when the apex court has ordered for their relief.

Even then, the government is shirking responsibility for its citizens, passing over the blame to only save a little more money for itself.

Fortunately, a few residents have come together to help the Mahul victims. Free medical camps are being held every Sunday in the area and medical equipment too is being mobilized. Even then, they are falling short of life-saving medication and it is our sincere appeal to our readers to generous contribute towards the cause of saving the lives of the innocent victims of the society.

Please donate to the cause here.


Related:

M’tra Govt must give alternate Accommodation & Rent to Mahul Project Affected: Bombay HC
Victory for Mahul residents: SC disposes of BMC’s petition, directs payment of rent
Setback for Mahul residents as SC stays order against Maharashtra govt
Bombay HC directs Fadnavis govt to pay Rs. 15,000 rent to Mahul residents
MHADA confirms 300 houses for Mahul residents, CM Fadnavis still mum
Mumbai Police Detains Hundreds of Mahul Residents Fighting for Right to Life

Mahul needs you

The residents who had been ‘rehabilitated’ to Mahul, today languish in apathetic conditions facing life-threatening diseases

Mahul residents

While the BJP and the Maha Vikas Aghadi were performing political acrobatics in Maharashtra, doctors were helping people of Mahul, often dubbed a ‘gas chamber’, fight for their lives.

The Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan (GBGBA) which has been fighting tooth and nail to get justice for the victims in Mahul, organized a medical camp there on November 17, 2019, where doctors voluntarily joined in to treat patients who are suffering from life-threatening diseases like asthma, heart and lung problems, skin infections and cancer. These victims of the ignorant government have been left to fend for themselves – whether it be housing, food, water or medicines.


The Mahul issue

Mahul, not very fondly referred to as a ‘toxic hell’ and a ‘gas chamber’ by its residents, is a small fishing village in the Trombay area.

Not by choice, the residents who were once to be only temporary inhabitants in the area, have now been left to become permanent residents and rot to death.

After the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) razed homes along the Tansa water pipeline, it has sent over 5,500 economically backward families from allegedly ‘illegal’ settlements in Ghatkopar, Chembur, Powai, Vakola and Bandra (East), to slowly perish in Mahul.

Their homes were razed for urban infrastructure projects worth crores and they were sent to a heavily industrialized area with refineries and chemical factories belonging to companies like Hindustan Petroleum, Bharat Petroleum, Sea Lord Containers, Aegis Logistics, Tata Power and Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers (RCF).

Reports by the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, National Green Tribunal, Comptroller and Auditor General and KEM Hospital have all come to the same conclusion. Mahul is uninhabitable.

Reports have found the presence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like benzene, styrene and toluene among others. These VOCs are mainly known to attack the central nervous system, causing irritation in the eyes, nose and throat.

The levels of toluene diisocyanate, released by the Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum, have been found to be the highest – 0.169 parts per million, way higher than the permissible levels of 0.21 ppm. Toluene is notorious for affecting the kidney, liver and impairing the immune system, The Indian Express reported.

The report by KEM hospital found that 67.1 per cent of Mahul’s population suffered from breathlessness, 86.6 per cent had eye irritation, and 84.5 per cent felt a choking sensation. The NGT report has clearly stated that there is a perceptible threat to the health of residents in Mahul.

The latest report by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) has recommended that Mahul be declared an ‘Air Control Region’, with no residential premises allowed in the vicinity of the factories.

Housed at the Eversmile Project Affected Person (PAP) colony, the residents challenged their allotments after they started suffering from tuberculosis, respiratory infections, skin infections and other health issues due to carcinogenic air pollution. Mahul victims are rapidly losing hair and the corrosive water and air is acting on their skin with dark patches that constantly itch.

The water that comes through a pipeline that runs parallel to a sewage pipeline. Residents complain that the water consumption causes stomach and throat infections. They are cut-off from basic facilities – schools, railway stations and hospitals.

The course of their struggle for justice has seen over 256 deaths.


No compensation

Just when you’d think that things couldn’t get any worse for Mahul residents, India’s richest civic body, the BMC in October this year, filed a second petition in the Supreme Court, challenging an order by the Bombay HC over the rehabilitation of over 30,000 Mahul residents, Times Now reported.

In September this year, the Bombay HC had ordered the BMC to pay a compensation of Rs. 15,000 as rent to residents or provide them alternate accommodation. The BMC states a report by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) which states that the pollution levels have going down in recent years. However, this report contradicts the ones by the NGT and KEM hospital that say the residents must be shifted out immediately.

It told the SC that the rent mentioned to be given to the affected residents would put a burden of Rs. 3,000 crore on the exchequer. It is complaining that the directive of the SC is letting the actual polluters, the refineries and industries go scot free, the Mumbai Mirror reported.

Bilal Khan who is leading the movement to get justice for Mahul’s residents, said that the BMC is misleading the court by putting out such a huge expense statement. He told the Mumbai Mirror that the BMC has fixed deposits of Rs. 61,000 crore and gets Rs. 4,000 crore as annual interest on them, going on to add, “It is ready to spend Rs. 3,000 crore on a statue, but not to save the lives of citizens.”


Our appeal

We have and always will stand by the victims of Mahul who have been shortchanged only because of their economic backgrounds. With average family incomes of Rs. 15,000 – Rs. 20,000 per month and even lesser, it has become extremely difficult for the residents to cope up with mounting health expenses. It is worrying that residents of the Eversmile colony continue to live in unbearably sorrowful circumstances, even when the apex court has ordered for their relief.

Even then, the government is shirking responsibility for its citizens, passing over the blame to only save a little more money for itself.

Fortunately, a few residents have come together to help the Mahul victims. Free medical camps are being held every Sunday in the area and medical equipment too is being mobilized. Even then, they are falling short of life-saving medication and it is our sincere appeal to our readers to generous contribute towards the cause of saving the lives of the innocent victims of the society.

Please donate to the cause here.


Related:

M’tra Govt must give alternate Accommodation & Rent to Mahul Project Affected: Bombay HC
Victory for Mahul residents: SC disposes of BMC’s petition, directs payment of rent
Setback for Mahul residents as SC stays order against Maharashtra govt
Bombay HC directs Fadnavis govt to pay Rs. 15,000 rent to Mahul residents
MHADA confirms 300 houses for Mahul residents, CM Fadnavis still mum
Mumbai Police Detains Hundreds of Mahul Residents Fighting for Right to Life

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