Dharavi Became A Macabre Chain Of Coronavirus Cases?

According to official numbers, Maharashtra accounts for around 30 percent of novel coronavirus cases and within the bustling capital of the state, Dharavi is easily the biggest ticking time bomb. Over 10 lakh people — many of them migrant laborers from all states of the country — live there in airless and congested dwellings, making the 2.16 sq km slum one of the most densely populated areas across the globe.


A chunk of the working-class people who spearhead the economy of Mumbai in the 21st century live in 19th-century Dickensian conditions in the heart of the metropolis. It’s a predicament Mumbai and the rest of the country had, until now, come to accept.

Dharavi — one of Asia’s largest slums — has reported over 180 Coronavirus Cases & 12 deaths, as of now. Reports by civic authorities reveal that in certain, highly infected slum clusters, up to 25% of samples tested have come positive.

About 3,000 slum-dwellers have been quarantined. However, not many people are readily cooperating with the authorities. People are scared of the virus, but what haunts them more is the fear of losing their jobs and being stowed away to quarantine centers. The economic hardships of Dharavi-dwellers are bound to worsen.

In conversation with Bloomberg, government official Kiran Dighavkar said, “In Dharavi, it’s very difficult to get the facts right. A lot of times residents are not telling us the truth about their travel history or where they have been out of fear. They fear they will be nabbed and punished for not following lockdown rules.”

Taking into consideration the ground situation in the locality, social distancing is but a theoretical concept. Compelled to enforce a lockdown to stop the spread of the pandemic, the authorities are faced with the impossible task of keeping Dharavi’s residents confined. As we talk about a barrio where 10-12 people live in 10×10 tin hovels, it is illusory to expect them to sit at home all day.


“They pay Rs 25 for a gallon of water, you’ll tell them to wash their hands frequently. Eighty people share a public toilet, you’ll tell them to not leave their house. How is that possible?” questions Vinod Shetty, Director, Acorn Foundation.

According to health experts, much will depend on containment strategies in the shanty settlements of Dharavi in preventing Mumbai hospitals from getting overwhelmed.

Apprehensions are that as soon as the lockdown is lifted, these migrant laborers of Dharavi will leave for their homes in other states, possibly taking the virus far and wide; into the hinterlands where medical facilities are scarce. The phantasma is vexing authorities everywhere.

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