The residents of Mariam Manzil at Dongri don’t bat an eyelid when one of them comes down with malaria. The open drainage line opposite their homes and the unattended pile of garbage have made it par for the course.
For residents of the B-ward, which includes Mandvi, Dongri and Umerkhadi, the problems are about the absolute lack of basic amenities that would ensure a tolerable quality of life.
The area’s biggest issues are that the water and sewage pipelines have outlived their utility. The problem is compounded when residents who live in matchbox-sized houses dump wastes in the open space between two buildings.
“We are living in a virtual hell. The mosquitoes and rats are having a field day,” said Abdul Rehman, a resident of Mariam Manzil, a 100-year-old structure.
Residents of the ward, a Muslim-dominated area, have even taken out protest marches to the local ward office to force the civic body to do something about the choked drains and uncleared garbage.
“All our complaints have fallen on deaf ears, nothing has been done,” said Rehman.
Simon Rebello, 34, a resident of Hawabhai building at Umerkhadi, said the stench in the area is unbearable.
“So we avoid bringing friends home,” he said.
Altaf Sardar, 42 a mobile shop owner, blames the overflowing sewage lines for his poor sales.
“Customers, especially women, avoid my shop as sewage water is flowing all over the place,” he said, criticising the corporators and the civic administration for shoddy work.
Another major problem is the frequent contamination of water as potable civic water tends to get contaminated by water from the sewage lines.
Other issues include congested roads and unauthorised structures and hawkers all over the place.
“We can barely walk on the footpaths as all the space has been encroached upon,” said Mazeed Coatwala, a businessman and resident of Kambekar Street in Dongri.
Corporators dismiss allegations that the civic body has been lax and instead blame residents.
“Apart from the BMC labourers, I have also employed private staff to clean the place. But no one appreciates what’s done,” said local corporator Ikhlaq Ansari, defensively.
Another corporator, Dynanraj Nikam, said residents are responsible for their unhygienic surroundings.
“Residents consider it their birthright to throw garbage outside the house.” Nikam believes the best remedy is to spread awareness about hygiene.
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leader Sharif Deshmukh, however, said: “There is a complete breakdown of civic services.”
Irfan Shaikh, volunteer of Satyawadi, an NGO working on civic issues, said the lack of accountability among the civic staff is at the root of the problems.
“Responsibility should be fixed on the civic staff to provide basic amenities to residents,” Shaikh said.
The ward coverage will resume in Monday’s edition.