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Mahul pollution forces 21-yr-old to quit studies... earning members turn patients

Thursday, July 12, 2018
By Dev Kotak. Photographs by Trupti Arekar

As residents of Mahul continue their fight against 'unlivable' conditions, the Maharashtra government is anything but serious about improving and rehabilitating the affected persons to a safer locality, continuing to remain nonchalant to a host of issues encountered by the residents daily.

Ashwini Kardekar, a 21-year-old student and resident of the 'death trap' Mahul has been forced to quit her studies due to the absence of a college nearby, while her health problems and that of several others gets aggravated with every passing day

Kardekar says, "My father has tuberculosis and my mother has a knot and infection in her stomach, because of the harmful and toxic fumes from refineries and industrial units in the adjoining areas. I have stopped studying and am sitting at home because there is no other choice left. Two of my siblings are also at home and are forced to leave school. Even basic transport is unavailable. There is no way we can reach faraway places and traveling so much everyday gets difficult."

She cuts a sorry picture while narrating the deplorable conditions they have been compelled to stay in and the obstacles she faces whilst trying to get access to even the most basic of facilities.     

The state government, BMC and MPCB (Maharashtra Pollution Control Board) have left these helpless people to fend for themselves, in a state of neglect, reflective of their lackadaisical attitude.

The 'living hell' status is because of its heavily polluted air brutally affecting the life of its residents. A medical report on the locals' health by NGO Vishwashanti Lokkalyan, based on its findings from a medical camp held in June, showed startling results. From the 575 Mahul residents,  80 per cent were found suffering from eye-related issues and 60 per cent were diagnosed with skin diseases and asthma.

Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan, who is also fighting for the rehabilitation of Mahul's residents, is angry and lambasts the government's callousness in treating this crisis on an emergency basis.  

"Both my parents have trouble breathing. They had no issue when we moved into this place. We request the authorities to move us out at the earliest. We are not able to afford my studies as two earning members are at home as patients. I will have to quit education to support my family?" asks Kardekar.

Mangal Ghotkar (40), a housewife says, "When I wake up in the morning, I feel worn out and my entire body itches. Everyone in my family has skin infection. We have issues such as eye-watering, reduced vision, hair fall and acidity because of the harmful emission and polluted air. Our electricity bills are high as we have fans running the whole day long. When we open windows, the toxic fumes enter our home and make us sick. Why is the government not paying attention to us and shifting us?"

Nanda Satpute, another resident lost her 32-year-old daughter to the environmental problems that have for long haunted other locality members as well.

"Within two days of us moving into this place, my daughter died. Her condition deteriorated at the hospital and the doctors confirmed that pollution and living conditions were to blame for the incident. My husband has paralysis and there is no bread winner in my family. I do not have money to pay doctors or buy medicines," she says.

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