Vasai-Virar municipal leaders spar over Covid-19 policies

Mayor says decision to charge patients, relatives for providing refreshments at centres will hinder fight against pandemic

The mayor and commissioner of Vasai-Virar Municipal Corporation (VVMC) are at odds with each other over Covid policies of the corporation, with the former levelling an allegation that the bureaucrat has been taking decisions arbitrarily.

In a couple of letters, in possession of Mirror, Pravin Shetty has warned Gangatharan Devarajan, the commissioner, that if extra measures are not taken, the western-most region of Mumbai could potentially become another Dharavi.

Shetty, who belongs to the Bahujan Vikas Aghadi, has taken exception to the corporation’s decision to charge patients and their relatives for providing refreshments at the quarantine centres.

The mayor said he has received many complaints from the patients and their relatives that Rs 250 is being charged per person per day at the centre. “Once a patient tests positive, his immediate relatives also have to be quarantined. If a patient has four relatives with him, it could result in at least Rs 1000 per day for food and it could be Rs 10,000 for 10 days. With no jobs and salaries these days, the poor can’t afford such expenses and the hospitals should have tieup with NGOs for supply for refreshments,” Shetty said.

He further said that only areas where Covid-19 patients have been identified are being bleached and sanitised but it should be done holistically. “The commissioner has ordered for the selective and restricted use of spraying and bleaching. Luckily there was no Covid-19 patient in the Sun City area where 10,000 people gathered recently. It should have been properly sanitised just like the railway station where the people’s movement has started. People from Mumbai are coming to take trains from here. So, these areas have to be properly sanitised but the commissioner has not paid attention to this,” Shetty claimed.

He has pointed out that the mayor is the executive head of the Corporation and the commissioner cannot take ‘arbitrary’ decisions without taking the mayor into confidence.

Contacted, Shetty confirmed writing letters to the commissioner, and he is yet to receive replies. “The VVMC area sends close to five lakh daily wagers to Mumbai by locals every day and if proper care is not taken, it could result in Dharavi,” he said. Calls and text messages to the commissioner remained unanswered.

The VVMCA area has 753 cases out of which 292 have recovered, 29 died and there are 434 active cases.

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