BMC takes U-turn on Wankhede stadium quarantine facility

Published on May 17, 2020 10:48 PM IST
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ByShrinivas Deshpande, Mumbai

Three days after the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had written a letter to the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) asking them to handover Wankhede stadium for it to be converted into a Covid quarantine facility, the civic body has now clarified that it is not going to take over the stadium, saying that the open ground will not be useful for the purpose during the monsoon season.

On Sunday, municipal commissioner IS Chahal said, “I am surprised by reading news about a quarantine facility centre at the stadium. We are not taking over the cricket stadium or any other open space because, in Mumbai, it sometimes rains continuously for a week. It will not be useful at all for the administration to take care of people there.”

Considering the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the city, on May 14, assistant commissioner of A ward, Chanda Jadhav, had written a letter to MCA asking them to hand over the stadium temporarily, under the guidelines issued by the BMC commissioner as per the Epidemic Act 1897. The letter further stated that the stadium will be used for emergency staff of BMC and also to quarantine asymptomatic Covid-19 patients.

After news of the letter, several residents associations from Marine Drive and neighbouring areas opposed BMC’s move to set up a quarantine facility at Wankhede stadium. Raj Purohit, former Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA from the area, wrote a letter to the BMC chief on Saturday and demanded that the civic body reconsider its decision to set up quarantine centre at the stadium. It was said that residents threatened to protest if BMC went ahead with its plan.

BMC’s u-turn on the plan follows on the heels of a tweet by Shiv Sena leader and minister Aditya Thackeray which pointed out the challenges of Covid centres during monsoon.

Thackeray’s tweet was in response to Sena leader Sanjay Raut’s tweet, supporting BMC’s move to take over Wankhede Stadium. Raut had suggested making a similar facility at nearby Brabourne stadium as well.

Despite its claims about monsoon issues for facilities set up on open grounds, Chahal announced that an 800-bed facility set up at the MMRDA ground in Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) will be operational from Monday and appointment of staff is underway.

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