Two days after more than 200 patients were admitted to Sion Hospital for colour poisoning on Holi, residents criticised inadequate security provided by the civic body at the site where the colours were procured.
Till last September, the site located just above the Mahim pipeline at Dharavi, housed illegal commercial and residential structures that were later demolished by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). Of the 448 illegal structures razed, 45 comprised various commercial units that cleared up the area near the pipeline.
Following this, the cleared ground was handed over to the civic body’s waterworks department. “Providing security was their responsibility,” said DP Jain, ward officer.
It is unclear when the bags of dry waste of dyes were dumped on the ground. “Nobody stopped us. We went in to the ground with the boys who offered the colour to us. We mixed it with water and played Holi,” said Suresh (name changed), 13, who could not resist the temptation of buying the packet of colour for a mere Rs 5, a day before the festival.
A resident of Shastrinagar at Dharavi, Suresh was lucky not have taken ill though his brother was among the children who suffered nausea, giddiness and vomiting.
Anjum Khan, who runs a shop across the site said, “It is the BMC’s responsibility to secure the plot. There is no compound wall, no gate. Anyone can enter this area.” But Ramesh Bamble, hydraulic engineer, BMC said, “We cannot guard the city’s entire pipeline and check if anyone is dumping waste on the site.”
On Wednesday night, more than 3,000 residents of adjoining colonies of Shastri Nagar in Dharavi, celebrated the bonfire at the Holi Maidan and gathered in the morning to celebrate Holi.
“One cannot hold small children responsible for venturing out to get cheap colours. None of us realised that they had got these colours until they started vomiting and fainting,” said Arun Gadekar, whose five cousins fell sick and were hospitalised. “Their condition deteriorated rapidly and we carried three, four children on bikes and rushed them to Sion Hospital.”