With online registration, a vaccination centre in Dharavi is empty
MUMBAI: Ghanshyam Mishra was among millions who welcomed ‘Tika Utsav,’ a celebration of the mass vaccination programme (April 11-April 14) PM Modi announced. But reality hit home hard last week when Mishra, a rickshaw driver, took a day off from work to queue up outside a vaccination centre, only to be told that he could not get the jab because he was not registered on the CoWin app. He came later, after his college-going son who owns a smartphone booked a slot for him.
Mishra, 50, originally from Jaunpur (UP), can be called privileged among his peers as his family owns at least one smartphone and could get the first dose. Thousands of other poor migrants, daily wagers, domestic help and semi-literate workers at construction sites have not got vaccinated yet because they lack access to smartphones.
Since they are not techno-savvy, the poor find it tedious to book a slot for vaccination even if they get access to smartphones. Dongri resident Farook Wakanerwala, 50, who worked as a supervisor at a construction site earlier, said he has been using the same phone for over 10 years. “I never felt the need to buy a smartphone as I find it convenient to use this handset. It has been with me for years and is easy to use. Booking a slot for me now seems a problem. I have two kids who are aged 20 and 22 years, but they have no time to sit and search for a slot for me. I am therefore not even trying to go and take the vaccine,” he said.
Wadi Bunder housewife, 65-year-old Aparna Jadhav, said there is a vaccination centre in her locality, but she needs to book an appointment online. “I do not have a smartphone, nor does anyone else in my family. Now just for the sake of taking the jab, I will not consider buying one. I would rather wait to see if they allow walk-ins again,” Jadhav said.
Lack of smartphones is a handicap for many Tamilians in Dharavi. “60% of migrants from Tamil Nadu do not have access to smartphones,” said Srithar Tamilan of Mumbai Vizhithezhu Iyakkam, an association of Tamil residents of Dharavi. It had sent a list of demands on behalf of Maharashtra’s 25-lakh-odd Tamil migrants to each of the parties contesting the TN elections recently. The letter also sought a separate ministry that would maintain records of migrants outside the state to ease distribution of welfare measures in emergencies.
Ravi Raja, opposition leader in BMC, said, “Our party workers sit with computers to register people online, but the problem is people can get a slot anywhere in the city. For instance, people living in F North ward may get a slot in R Central. A person from a Sion slum will have to travel to Borivli for a shot. Many people are now simply waiting for things to ease.”
(Inputs from Richa Pinto, Clara Lewis and Sharmila Ganesan Ram)