Vaccination drive halted; city out of doses
A lack of vaccine availability has led to all 136 vaccination centres across Mumbai being declared shut until May 2nd. BMC received its last big stock of 1.58 lakh doses on Sunday night. It had then said the stock will last only till Wednesday. On Wednesday night, it received an additional 70,000 doses which too did not last for long. A person waiting in the queue outside NESCO centre on Thursday, April 29th, said that “No one picks up the helpline numbers. They are dead most of the time.” Many residents have noted that the CoWin app faces several technical glitches and crashes making it difficult to register for vaccination. Additional municipal commissioner Suresh Kakani stated that the drive would resume with a day’s notice if the BMC receives stock. Vaccinations were supposed to have opened up for everyone in the city above the age of 18 on May 1st.
Coastal road work continues despite opposition
BMC claims to have completed 330 metres of tunneling work that is a crucial part of the proposed coastal road. Despite a surge in COVID-19 cases, construction has continued on the road. Even so, the city expects a delay of one year to July, 2023 due to pandemic related stoppages last year. A few weeks ago, the BMC razed almost half of the iconic Worli Sea Face (or Worli Promenade as it was also known). In 2018, amidst local opposition the government had assured that the promenade would not be demolished. The coastal road has generated considerable controversy amongst residents, environmentalists, and Koli fishing communities. Fishermen in particular agonized earlier this year that the bigger fish earlier found at the coast have now retreated further into the sea due to construction work. Urban planners too have rejected the road as unnecessary and unviable and criticized the opacity of the project that is being carried out with no public consultation.
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Three dolphin carcasses wash ashore in Mumbai
The bodies of three Indian Ocean humpback dolphins have been found in the past week. One at Cuffe Parade, one at Reti-bunder in Mahim, and the third near Haji Ali. An official from the Mangrove Foundation said that they will be conducting an autopsy to determine the causes of death. Last year, oceanographers had noted the earlier sightings of dolphins along the city’s coastline could be because of shifts in the ocean’s currents or due to low levels of fishing during the first lockdown both of which led to increased availability of prey for dolphins. They also raised concerns about lack of knowledge around exact population estimates and the importance of collecting such data especially when large scale coastal infrastructural projects are being carried out by the city.
Migrant transport workers leave the city
Operator unions of auto-rickshaw and kaali-peeli taxis have claimed that more than 35% and 50% of drivers respectively have left the city. The taxi union’s leader A L Quadros estimated that only around 5,000 taxis are still running in the whole city, that too mainly near the airport and outside railway stations. He also said that ongoing restrictions have severely hit the earnings of taxi drivers who largely depended on office going passengers. Ramawtar, a taxi driver who left the city stated that drivers who were once clocking 70-80 km a day now barely get 20 km. A rickshaw driver named Hausila Yadav stated that it is impossible to survive in Mumbai for more than a week without a job. He left the city before fresh curbs were imposed as he remembered his harrowing experience travelling in trucks in 2020’s lockdown. Shashank Rao of Mumbai Autorickshawmen’s Union called the state relief package a joke and questioned how someone can live in the metropolitan on just Rs. 1,500 a month. He said that more than 40,000 rickshaws have been seized by financial institutions for inability to repay loans.
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Ventilator shortages continue to grip the city
An investigation by The Indian Express has found discrepancies in BMC’s public data of ventilator and ICU availability. BMC’s public dashboard showed 17 of 1,444 ventilators and 60 of 2,861 ICUs were vacant for Covid-19 patients. However, an internal dashboard showed that only 6 ventilators and 21 ICUs were vacant. Indian Express’s inquiry revealed that in actuality only 1 ventilator and 15 ICUs were available for COVID-19 patients. Of 21 ICUs in 11 hospitals displayed by the internal live dashboard, only BKC’s jumbo facility had 5 ICUs in the public sector. The rest were all in private sector.
Source: Indian Express
Realty sector stagnates
Over 1 lakh household units remain unsold as the real estate sector of Mumbai reels under the pandemic. While realtor groups blame this on increased government taxation and levies of premiums, others point to the overall economic slump in the city. The pandemic slid more of the population into financial distress which may have deterred traditional homebuying. There can also be seen a diversification of geography in the real estate market with more people choosing to invest in homes in Navi Mumbai and Pune. In contrast, the office market of Mumbai City saw a jump in leasing volume. The slowdown can also be attributed to the end of the stamp duty rate reduction introduced by the government last year in order to boost the real estate sector. This stamp duty cut led to the sales in March of 2021 growing 234% over the same month last year, registering the highest growth in the past year.
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- Low-cost housing crunch in Mumbai: Is the state to blame?
Over 10k students have dropped out in Mumbai says Maharashtra government
Maharashtra’s education department concluded its survey to locate out-of-school students and found that 25,204 students are out-of-school, out of which 10,821 are from Mumbai. However, teachers and experts believe this number to be an incredibly low under-estimation. The data shows that only 288 child labourers are present across the whole state of Maharashtra. Heramb Kulkarni, a senior educationist interviewed by Mid-Day said that this contradicted “all other information available in the public domain”. She further stated that “We had raised issues after the survey was launched but the government did not heed us. The survey had a time period of 10 days, which is an impossible deadline to meet, especially amid the pandemic.”
[Complied by Nihira]