They livE in Mumbai’s backyard but lead a life far removed from all the markings of city life.
More than 1,500 tribals living in the fringes of Sanjay Gandhi National Park are geographically in the city, but live without access to health facilities, electricity, proper water supply and education.
There’s a more immediate problem at hand now. A contagious skin infection has spread among the tribals, particularly in parts where malnutrition is rampant.
Almost every child from the hamlets of Chunapada and Navapada is suffering from scabies. Every second family in Chunapada, which has about 50 families, has at least one member suffering from scabies.
Officials from the civic body’s health department, forest department and Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) are passing the buck.
Scabies is a skin infection that causes small itchy bumps and blisters due to tiny mites that burrow into the top layer of the skin to lay their eggs. The burrows sometimes appear as short, wavy, reddish. It is contagious and usually transmitted by skin-to-skin contact or through sexual contact with an infected person.
Jeeva Dhule (70) has black spots all over his body for two years, which continuously itch leaving scars all over his body. “I don’t know how these spots have come out all over the body especially on my fingers, stomach and legs,” said Krishna Dhune (38), who suffers from similar symptoms.
Men from these hamlets generally work as daily-wagers in nearby construction sites. “We have never had a bank account in our family,” said Dhune.
“Doctors (usually linked to NGOs) who come here give temporary solutions. And after their creams are over we can’t buy new ones,” said Sangeeta Pudwale, whose grandson died of malnutrition last year.
Officials from the ICDS said unhygienic conditions were to blame.