Varsha Gaikwad, women and child development minister, instructed civic officials to ensure basic facilities such as drainage and sanitation were provided to residents of the Rafi Nagar, a slum in Govandi on Saturday.
HT had first reported the death of 17 children in the slum because of malnutrition and related illnesses in a series of articles in December.
During her visit, Gaikwad noted that the slum, which is situated on a dumping ground, has no access to water or toilets and poor drainage systems, which combined with lack of awareness on nutritional issues, has led to an acute problem of malnutrition in the area.
“This slum has been established before the year 2000 so they deserve basic facilities such as clean water, drainage and sanitation which the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) should provide,” said Gaikwad.
Social workers in the slum, are skeptical about implementation. “While the Congress claims to have legitimised all settlements before 2000, the government resolution legitimises only those before 1995, which the BMC may use as a reason to avoid providing facilities to certain parts of the slum,” said Leena Joshi, director of Apnalaya. The BMC ward officer in charge of the area was not reachable for comment.
The Integrated Child Development Services Scheme is supposed to help spread awareness about breastfeeding and nutrition during pregnancy. The agency has two centres in the slum and caters to more than 600 families. A new centre was started this month. “We will try to open another centre and conduct meetings with the workers to emphasise the need for awareness,” added Gaikwad.