Driven Out of Shelter, Patients Back to Mumbai’s Hindmata Flyover

Non-COVID patients and other bystanders were accommodated by the BMC in shelters across the city earlier in April.

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My Report
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On my way to work last week, I crossed Hindmata flyover, Dadar and was shocked to see some patients had taken shelter below the flyover in open. Hindmata at Dadar is a low lying area, so the bridge gets waterlogged every monsoon and I couldn’t imagine what would happen to their living conditions every time it rains.

I stopped to speak to a few of these people. At least 25 patients with families were sitting under the bridge. All of them were from outside Mumbai, some outside Maharashtra and had come for treatment at KEM Hospital and Tata Memorial Hospital nearby.

Back in April, during the national lockdown, it was reported that OPD patients were shifted below the bridge to avoid overcrowding.

Soon after the news was reported, non-COVID patients and other bystanders were accommodated in shelters across the city by the BMC.

When I came here a few days ago there was no one at the spot. Patients alleged that they had been shunned from the accommodation they were put up at earlier.

When I asked if there were arrangements made for their accommodation earlier, Suromani Devi from Bihar answered in the affirmative. She was sitting by her sick husband.

“Yes, they gave us accommodation but then they asked us to leave from there. We stayed there a month and a half.”
Suromani Devi

An NGO ‘Bulbul’ provides khichdi to these people every evening. Other than that, no NGO, government official or elected representative have done anything. Many patients told me that they do not know anyone in the city to ask for help. The limited economic resources they had are now exhausted.

Nishant Bhaagwan, who has to take his ailing father back home to Beed, says,

“It is costing Rs 14,000-15,000 to go home. We don’t have that kind of money. We are living on the streets and we don’t even know anyone to ask for help. Thankful to those asking about our condition. We want assistance in going back home. We are living here because we are left with no option, not because we like staying under a bridge.”

Arjun Verma from Uttar Pradesh, who is in Mumbai with his parents since six months, said they do not know who to turn to at such a time.

“It has been six months for us here. We are unable to get any living facilities. We got accommodation for two months but then they asked us to go back to the hospital. If we go to the hospital, they tell us that it is our responsibility to manage food and living. We are now under the bridge and it is worse when it rains.”

Cancer patient Ashok Jha from Bihar lost his job during the lockdown and has no money to eat. Similar is the case of another woman, a TB patient, who said she was sitting alone on the pavement without a family member since 10 days.

“We tried everywhere. We went to dharamshalas and trusts, they told us they can’t give us accommodation because of COVID-19 and because we are from other states. Therefore we have taken shelter under the bridge. Where in a city like Mumbai, can we find shelter?”

Ashok was thankful to the NGO that is feeding him.

I request the authorities and netas to help the poor and make arrangements for food and shelter. They have come here from afar and arrangements must be made for them so that their problems are eased.

Tata Memorial Hospital’s Response to The Quint

Mr SH Jafri, senior public relations officer, Tata Memorial Hospital has responded to The Quint’s queries.

“The hospital management had shifted about 250 patients and families to accommodations across Mumbai with the help of the BMC and a few donors. The hospital, with the help of the Railway Protection Force and Central Railway officials, has also sent the families back home once train services resumed.”

Mr Jafri urged the patients under Hindmata Flyover to shift to shelter homes such as Sarvodya Hospital and Gadge Maharaj for a small fee so that they are not under increased risk of catching infection.

(AllMy Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)

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