Health infrastructure in draft Development Plan woefully inadequate, say activists

MUMBAI: Health activists are upset with the draft Development Plan 2014-2034 for its cursory approach to health issues.

“The DP, in its present avatar, only seems to have dedicated itself to construction activity and FSI,” Leni Chaudari of the Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA) said. “There is little in terms of detailed references to health infrastructure.”

JSA is a network of NGOs working in the field of health.

“There are sections dedicated to buildings and solid waste management, but health and education have been clubbed together under amenities,” a JSA document said.

Land for hospitals has not been clearly marked for public or private use. “The planners know there is a demand-supply gap in healthcare, but no steps have been taken to address this gap,” the JSA document said.

The draft does not address the need for more health posts. JSA said there were 168 health posts in the city, working out to one per 92,592 persons. “This is highly inadequate, especially in wards with large populations, which have large number of vulnerable groups like slumdwellers, migrants, minorities, etc,” the JSA document said.

Activists were also upset that the municipal corporation had not thought about aspects of preventive healthcare.


Little space for healthcare facilities in Mumbai DP

After drawing flak from urban planners, the BMC’s draft development plan (DP) 2034 has come in for criticism from health activists and organisations in Mumbai.

Health amenities have been allocated only 0.38sqm per capita, as against the centre’s urban development plans formulations and implementation (UDPFI) guideline of 0.83sqm to 1.28sqm per capita, experts said.

“Earlier, a lot of land was marked separately for civic or government-run facilities. This category does not exist in the new plan,” said Leni Choudhary, a member of Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA), a collective of health activists and organisations.

“This approach means the DP ignores all those who can’t afford private healthcare. When Mumbai is aspiring to be a global city, the lowering of planning standards is unacceptable,” he said.

Much like urban planners, the JSA has also said the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) consulted them for more than six years while formulating the DP, but failed to incorporate them.

According to the JSA, the DP does not even include the recommendations of the BMC-appointed Rindani Committee report, submitted in 2011. The report made suggestions about expanding existing hospitals, maternity homes and dispensaries, and the locations of the new facilities.

“The existing healthcare infrastructure in Mumbai is already inadequate. The DP does nothing to improve it in the future, when the city will only expand and its population will grow,” said Nisreen Ebrahim, member, JSA.