Leprosy patients demand lease renewal of Sumanahalli land
Residents of the leprosy rehabilitation centre in Sumanahalli on Magadi Road in the city appealed to the State government on Saturday to renew the lease for the entire 45 acres of land on which Sumanahalli Society runs the centre.
Sixty-three acres of land was allotted to the society for the treatment and rehabilitation of leprosy patients in 1977. The then Chief Minister D. Devaraj Urs had leased the land for 30 years. Although the lease period ended in 2007, repeated attempts made by the society from 2001 to get the lease renewed have not been successful.
Addressing presspersons here, Suresh Kumar from the Karnataka Leprosy-affected Persons Welfare Association, termed the recent Government Order cancelling the land lease for 40 of the 45 acres under use by the society, as a “betrayal” and “infringement on the rights of the affected persons”.
Following a submission by the government in the Karnataka High Court, the lease for only 5 acres and 23 guntas will be renewed.
“The society has been a place of refuge. There are over 400 people, including leprosy patients, HIV patients, persons with disabilities, orphans, and juvenile delinquents, residing in Sumanahalli. We will be back to the streets begging thanks to this Government Order,” Ramesh Babu, who was rehabilitated at the centre, said.
While the order states that only leprosy-rehabilitation related work had to be continued, it was strange to note that the areas in the campus where leprosy patients were staying was being taken back. The Ave Maria home for the old which has 80 people affected by leprosy and 40 families dependent on Sumanahalli for livelihood would suffer if the land was taken back, he said.
Mr. Suresh Kumar said even the leprosy clinic would be gone. “The government is giving us only 5 acres on which a garment unit to train the affected persons is located. This shows that the government wants to take away the prime land and push the activities for the destitute people to a corner,” he said.
“The society has built about 50 structures to create all necessary infrastructure for our needs, utilising the entire campus, spending more than Rs. 25 crore in the last 25 years, including a hospital, a school and a dozen training centres. Our activities cannot be restricted to 5 acres at all,” he said.
Mr. Suresh Kumar said the decision to take back the land was unfair, especially at a time when Karnataka reported 3,718 new leprosy cases last year out of which 451 were from Bangalore city. Sumanahalli is a referral centre for leprosy in Karnataka, he added.
The members, who met Deputy Chief Minister R. Ashok on Saturday and submitted a memorandum in this regard, plan to meet Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar on Sunday.