‘Dahisar Bldg Left To Fend For Itself’

Sameer Mulani | AUTO DRIVER

Snehal Chawl in Dahisar’s Kandarpada, where I’ve lived my entire life, was sealed by the BMC five days ago after a visitor tested positive for coronavirus. The visitor lives in Mira Road and his father owns a room in our chawl. He came here to selfquarantine and live alone after he took ill. But we got worried about his condition and reported him to the BMC.

We have been left to fend for ourselves since that day. The entrance to the chawl has been closed with bamboo barricades and policemen from the local chowky have been deputed outside.

Chawl residents have been prohibited from stepping out. Residents of adjacent buildings have their eyes trained on our chawl all the time. If any of our neighbours makes an attempt to pop out, someone from the buildings dials ‘100’ and lodges a complaint. A couple of days ago, a pregnant woman from the chawl developed pain and was allowed to go to the hospital only after her medical files were checked. Her husband, who went to the hospital with her, has been forbidden from coming back to the chawl.

The administration has made no arrangements for food or sanitation so far. We are all surviving on rice and foodgrains stocked up before the confinement. There is no access to fresh vegetables, fruits or bread. When we requested for help, the police gave us phone numbers of shopowners. But whenever we call, the shopowners claim they have no deliverymen to send the products. Milk and eggs are delivered at the chawl entrance on and off.

Elderly residents are the worst hit. One of the elders in the chawl is a heart patient and the pills he takes are available only in Dahisar East. Like him, none of us has any access to medicines. We cannot visit ATMs to withdraw cash. We are all running out of stocked food. My mother was so moved by the plight of my two children that she requested relatives to deliver meals.

A big problem staring us in the face is the overflowing sewage chamber in the chawl. With the containment, no BMC workers can be brought in to clean the chamber. BMC sanitation workers do not come to pick up our garbage anymore. So, we have to store it at home.

The lockdown has hit me very badly financially. I have been unable to repay a loan that I had taken out for my autorickshaw. The auto has been off the road since Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the Janata Curfew and I haven’t earned a rupee. I’m the sole breadwinner of my family and don’t know how long my family can survive on savings.

(As told to Nitasha Natu)