A Houston-based non-resident Indian (NRI) Raj K Aggarwal is doing yeoman service in helping the physically challenged persons through his eight-yar-old Lala Durga Charan Foundation and Parwati Devi Trust.
'Jaipur foot' being prepared at the centre in Ambala. HT photo
Talking to Hindustan Times, Aggarwal claimed that as many as 11,000 persons had
been provided with artificial limbs since the trust was established in 2004.
Making quarterly visits to India every year to monitor the operations of the trust, Aggarwal said the family had formed the trust in the memory of his grandfather Durga Charan, who was a freedom fighter and as the district Congress committee president had participated in Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘Civil Disobedience Movement’ in 1920 and was even jailed several times.
He said Sadar Bazar’s main ‘Durga Charan Road’ was named after his grandfather when he passed away in 1930, adding that he was popularly known as Masterji as he was the headmaster of Hindu-Mohammedan School (later named CB School) and had founded the Desh Bank of India in 1929.
Aggarwal, who established the ‘Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayta Samiti’ in Red Cross building, said limbs to the hapless were provided free of cost, which included amputees and calipers for polio afflicted patients.
He said the staff at the samiti was trained specially at Jaipur for making the famous ‘Jaipur foot’. “Since it is very difficult for the disabled to travel to Ambala from remote areas, our four-member team holds regular camps in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pardesh, Uttarakahnd and UP. They bring the measurements to Ambala and then return with the artificial limbs to fix them,” he said.
Asked about the inspiration behind the project, Aggarwal said he came across the ‘Jaipur foot’ when he had gone to Jaipur to solemnise the marriage of his son and decided to undertake this humanitarian service at Ambala.
He lamented that he had approached the successive deputy commissioners for land to start the project, but nothing happened till 2005 when the then deputy commissioner JP Kaushik provided them accommodation in the Red Cross building.
However, Aggarwal said, the accommodation was proving to be insufficient now and he has been
urging the administration to provide a piece of land to the trust and it will undertake the construction on its own.
“We want the centre to be close to the station, so that it reduces the botheration of those visiting us,” he said.