Meet the first Christian BMC President who discovered Bombay bubonic plague
Very few in Mumbai may even be recollecting the name of Dr.Accacio Gabriel Viegas, President of the then Bombay Municipal Corporation from 1906 to 1907.
Very few in Mumbai may even be recollecting the name of Dr.Accacio Gabriel Viegas, President of the then Bombay Municipal Corporation from 1906 to 1907. But you can find his statue at CowasjiFramjee Hall, Metro Cinema, with a plaque which clearly states that the citizens of Bombay are grateful to the selfless and invaluable services rendered to the city.
Now what services did AccacioViegas, who was the head of BMC for just one year render? He is credited with the discovery of the outbreak of 1896 bubonic plague in Bombay.
He was a practicing physician and interested in civic affairs. A reason he got elected to Municipal council in his early forties. Born in Goa and an alumni of St Xavier's High School, Bombay and Grant Medical College, in 1906 he became the first Christian President of the Municipal Corporation.
Some mysterious disease in Nowroji Hill slums that the residents could not understand led Dr Viegas to suspect it was Bubonic plague theoretically. High fever, lymph and weakness which were spreading across the places led him to practically accept it was actually bubonic plague.
It was 18 of September 1896 that this happened and after the administration confirmed the disease, on 29 September 1896, Lord Sandhurst, the then Governor of Bombay informed Lord Elgin, the Governor General of India notifying the outbreak.
Taking personal risk, he ensured that the slums are cleaned and the source of the disease gets eradicated. He was also instrumental in saving so many lives and inoculation of thousands of local residents.Detailing of the city during this time is in ROOM 000 - Narratives of the Bombay Plague.
Bandra was one place which thanked the elimination of the disease by erecting shrines. They are still worshipped and adored and rosaries are regularly conducted at these places.