After the demise of his parents 20 years ago, R. Murugesan(45) was forced to choose the option of spending his life in the Home for the persons with disability on Muthiah Garden Road, near Lloyds Colony in Royapettah.
His physical disability did not deter him from starting his own business with the help of government a few years ago. With diminishing earnings from his STD booth, the free hostel facilities offered by the Home are really a boon to him now. But the structural stability of the dilapidated building that houses the Home has become a cause of concern for him.
The land where the Home is built is owned by the Chennai Corporation and was given on lease to an NGO a few decades ago. Officials at the Department of Welfare for the Differently Abled said that they were examining the building to find ways of making an alternative arrangement to help the persons with disability. Currently the Tamil Nadu Association for the Rehabilitation of the Handicapped, an NGO, is running the Home, but residents are seeking government intervention.
“As per the rules, the Home does not have the approval of the government. However, since the persons with disability are being provided with free accommodation, we are hesitant to take severe action and order closure,” said an official.
Mr. Murugesan says his earnings are not even enough for him to afford a rented house in Chennai. “The free hostel facilities at the Home are valuable for over 40 persons with disability who are self-employed like me or work outside. However, the building is in a very bad shape. We were subjected to enormous hardship during the recent rain as water trickled through the damaged roof,” he said.
Another person with disability in the home, P. Murugesan (29) said that lack of adequate water supply and toilet facilities in the Home was bothering all the persons with disability who reside in the building. “The doors in the building are damaged. So it always remains open. In the night, we sometimes find snakes on the premises,” he said.
“When we make representations on improving the structural stability of the building, the authorities at the Tamil Nadu Association for the Rehabilitation of the Handicapped who run the Home say they are unable to do anything to improve the conditions. As the Home is not run by persons with disability, they are not able to empathise with us. We want the government to intervene and build a new Home for us on the same premises,” said Mr.Murugesan.
He said that anti-social elements were creating problems for persons with disability who reside there. “Mr.Murugesan is an accountant with a private firm. Mohammad Jawahar (31), another person with disability, stressed the need for provision of food in the hostel. “Supply of food at the Home was stopped in 2010,” said M.Anandhan, another person with disability at the home.
“But it is only because I stay in the Home free of cost that I am able to save Rs.2,000 every three months and send it to my family in my native village,” said Mr.Anandhan.