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Leprosy patients get pittance for pension

punjab Updated: Jan 02, 2014 15:13 IST
Sat Singh
Sat Singh
Hindustan Times
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Inmates of Gandhi Kusht Ashram, a welfare home for leprosy patients named after Mahatma Gandhi here, are forced to live at the mercy of others, as the pension offered by the state government to them is too little to live a decent life.

Over 30 inmates, both male and female, have been residing at Gandhi Kusht Ashram, whose chairperson is Rohtak deputy commissioner at the district level and Haryana governor at the state level.

"We are offered Rs 600 per head per month for food, clothing, medicines and other recurring expenses by the state government through state-level NGO — Hind Kusht Nivaran Sangh, Haryana," said S Vadivela, head of Gandhi Kusht Ashram.


Vadivela, who originally hails from Tamil Naidu and is living in this ashram for past 15 years, said, “Leprosy is considered an untouchable disease and the inmates here are those who left their homes at different parts of the country after facing ill treatment from their kin.”

On the pension money, he said, “It is not regular, we got four-month pension in December, so you can well imagine how we celebrated Diwali, the biggest festival in the country.” He said before that the inmates here got the pension after a 14-month delay.

Gobind Swami, a member of the ashram here, who has been living for more than two decades here said, “Three successive deputy commissioners — PC Meena, Vikas Gupta and incumbent DC Amit Aggarwal — have never visited our ashram, who being the head of district should look after the welfare home.”
On how do they manage their life sans government help, he said, “Inmates have to manage with the offerings like food, clothes, tea, biscuits, bread and at times money donated in the temple located inside the ashram by people of the district.”

Their Demands
Vadivela said they have been demanding that the leprosy patients’ colony turned into ashrams at Rohtak, Ambala, Karnal are Jagadhri be converted into homes for destitute and these should be adopted by the department of social welfare justice.

He said after the executive committee of Hindu Kusht Nivaran Sangh, Panchkula, held a meeting with the then governor of Haryana, AR Kidwai in 2003-04 and 2004-05 and the issue was in final stages, but with the change in regime in the state, the issue is pending with the government.

Dilapidated Houses
Gobind Swami, an inmate, said there are over 20 rooms in which 30 inmates reside and the condition is such that in rainy season, water leaks from the roof and its walls have become so weak that theses can crumble any moment.

“Whenever there is a stormy weather, it gives sleepless nights to inmates who live with their children,” he added.

Swami added that their demand of erecting a boundary wall around 2 acre open ashram is pending for the past many years, which make them vulnerable to thefts and stray animals.”

Grudge against politicians
Vadivela said chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and his wife Asha Hooda had visited this ashram several times in 2004 and before that and promised to provide all possible help.

He said after coming to power in 2005, neither the chief minister or his wife or any political leader from any opposition party had visited them to know their well being.

He said delegations from their side have submitted representations in personal to chief minister and education and social welfare minister Geeta Bhukkal several times in past, but all in vain.