For a place where 44% children are underweight, 57% are stunted and 88% pregnant women are anaemic, Shivaji Nagar has no hospitals and no maternity homes. It has just one dispensary and four health posts. These stark realities were reported by Apnalaya, an NGO, based on its surveys of 12 slum clusters, comprising 6,631 families in Mumbai’s M/East ward.
Apnalaya’s report, titled ‘Life on the Margin: Changing Realities’, highlighted that the area’s population of 6 lakh requires a minimum of 60 dispensaries and four health posts.
The survey, conducted in April 2015, reveals that 60.3% people said they go without even one meal a day. 58.8% said they worry that their household does not have enough food.
Founded in 1973, Apnalaya works towards improving health, livelihood and gender relations in the ward.
A ward that ranks the lowest in Human Development Indices in the city, the average age of death in M/East is just 39 years. Though Shivaji Nagar itself has more than two lakh registered voters, access to basic civic amenities is the poorest here. M/East also houses the largest dumping ground, the Deonar dump. Though many earn their livelihood at this dump, it is also one of the biggest health hazards in the city.
The report comes at a time when the city’s civic elections are slated for February 21. Candidates are likely to woo voters with dreams of a better life.
Every second male, and 6 of 7 females who participated in the study were unemployed. Gender discrimination is also poignant as women account for just 17% of the total workforce in the area.
As much as 60% were employed in the casual labour sector. The average monthly income in the slums is merely Rs7,802, compared to the national average of Rs14,000.
“The average income of a person who has been living in Shivaji Nagar for four decades is just Rs700 more than a person who is new to the community. Most of the work is rudimentary. One can imagine the circumstances that force people leave their home and come to Shivaji Nagar to just earn Rs700 more in 40 years,” said Arun Kumar, CEO, Apnalaya.
Through the report, Apnalaya aims to collaborate with the local body and the state to improve conditions in the ward, Kumar added.
The report highlights inconsistencies in the availability of potable water, which leads to more than half the families spending Rs10-Rs29 on water everyday, an added burden with minimal income.