A large number of de-addiction psychiatric rehabilitation centres, that is, centres that rehabilitate and detoxify drug/ alcohol abusers, are mushrooming in the city and the districts without valid permission from the health department, thereby virtually endangering the lives of patients.
Sourjya Ghosh, a Calcutta High Court advocate who is aware of this development, has lodged complaints with the director of health services, Dr BR Satpathi, and joint commissioner of police (crime) in the city urging them to take immediate action against such unauthorised centres.
“We have received a complaint from a high court advocate, Sourjya Ghosh, and will definitely launch a drive to check how many centres are running without our approval across the state. We are sending notices to all these centres from Monday asking them to produce their documents at Swasthya Bhavan,” Dr Saibal Banerjee, additional director of health services (mental health), told HT.
“Most of the centres are run by reformed drug addicts who claim to treat and rehabilitate addicted persons for the welfare of the society. But they do not obtain the necessary government approval for setting up such centres as per the Mental Health Act, 1987,” Ghosh alleged in his complaints.
“They admit patients in the centres and administer medicines without consulting doctors and psychiatrists. In several centres, patients are forced to stay in unhealthy small rooms and are not given an adequate diet. They lead a horrible life. In some cases, addicts who are mentally-ill, are given psychotropic drugs on an empty stomach without the advice of registered doctors. This is a sheer violation of human rights. How can these centres exist? I will file a public interest litigation (PIL) in the high court if the administration, along with the police, does not take preventive steps,” he added.
“Such centres must meet all requirements in accordance with government rules while seeking a green signal from the health department. Every licenced centre must have adequate space, that is, enough beds, fulltime or part-time doctors and psychiatrists, regular supply of water, electricity and other basic services,” Banerjee said.
“We don’t require any licence from the health department. We have all other documents and 40 beds for the treatment and rehabilitation of drug addicts,” said P Banerjee, a member of a society that runs Come Back in Malancha, South 24-Parganas.
“We have applied for a licence from the health department. But they are yet to give us the licence. We do not know why are they delaying giving us approval. We are doing social service rehabilitating drug addicts,” said Bijon Majumder of Garia Niramoy Foundation.
“We have all the necessary documents required under the societies’ registration act but no licence from the health department. Earlier, I had met the health department officials at Swasthya Bhavan to know whether we need any clearance from the department for our centre. But no licence has been given to us so far,” said Sandip Mukherjee, who is attached to Rajarhat Disha Rehabilitation Centre.