The spread of chicken pox in the Bal Sudhar Ghar, the substitute of a jail for juvenile undertrials and convicts, in Ram Colony Camp here is once again in focus for its unhealthy conditions. So far, nine inmates have been infected.
Even as Dr SS Sharma, a skin specialist in the civil hospital who was consulted for the inmates' treatment, sought to play down the incidence "Anyone gets afflicted with chicken pox once in his lifetime; it's no big issue" - it does underline the sorry state of affairs at the centre, which has 64 inmates at present.
The centre's in-house medical officer Dr Tarlok Singh said that the disease was self-limiting. "Some of the inmates have already recovered while others are responding well to the medication," he said, admitting that the infection had spread through air or contact, which meant the contagion could have been avoided had the very first patient isolated immediately.
The infected children were segregated but not before senior BJP leader and former health minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla's reprimands. Chawla, a member of the legal services authority, had visited the centre on Saturday.
On Monday, deputy commissioner Deepinder Singh, accompanied by officials of the health and family welfare department and the PWD, visited and asked the Sudhar Ghar officials to keep the premises, particularly the bathrooms, clean and give proper medical care to the ailing inmates. He also asked them to ensure that no adult inmate was lodged along with the juveniles.
When an HT team visited the centre, two inmates were washing clothes of the infected patients in boiling water, while their beddings were being sun-dried. The ailing inmates had been made to lie in a dingy room having no ventilation or sunlight.
Bal Sudhar Ghar superintendent Jagdish Mittar said the hole where the ventilating fan was intalled, had been bricked after some inmates escaped through it. He, however, had no justification for the stinking bathrooms and leaking water pipes. The situation is prevailing for years.
Three years ago, MP Avinash Rai Khanna, who was then a member of the Punjab State Human Rights Commission, had visited the centre and submitted a report on its deficiencies. The commission had directed the district administration to take appropriate action but the situation hardly improved.