“We are forced to stay here in deplorable and unhygienic conditions. There is a constant stench here, which is unbearable: even a healthy man will fall sick.”

Narayanappa, an elderly inmate of the Beggars' Rehabilitation Centre at Magadi Road, had plenty to tell The Hindu. “It's because of the deaths that the authorities used disinfectant to clean the floors today. But on a normal day, they don't bother to even look at the dormitories. The bathrooms and toilets are not cleaned for months,” he said.

Fetid dormitory

Mr. Narayanappa is among the 100 persons lodged in the fetid dormitory No. 4, one of the eight at the centre. Clearly, the disinfectant has made little impact. This is the place where Social Welfare Minister D. Sudhakar found the 65-year-old Ramakrishnaiah lying dead.

Apart from beggars, the centre shelters terminally ill destitutes sent away from hospitals.

The inmates complained about the abysmal conditions of the toilets. “It's always slippery. We have to step on excreta, which is not removed for days,” said Basaveshwara.

Trail of excreta

In fact, this reporter found a trail of excreta on the passage leading to and from the toilets.

“We vomit even if we drink water,” said Sonnappa, a native of Malur, who is forced to drag himself along the floor as he has lost both his legs.

Many others complained about the foul conditions in the kitchen. “They don't maintain hygiene even in the kitchen,” they said. Alleging callousness on the part of the authorities, one of them said: “When people started dying one by one, the authorities just moved the bodies from one dormitory to another before taking them away.”

The Hindu found the inmates were not provided with proper mattresses and blankets. Asked about it, the inmates alleged that the centre's personnel assaulted them when they seek even the basic facilities.

Minister's take

Mr. Sudhakar was non-committal about the horrendous conditions. “There is no dearth of funds. I have visited the centre several times, but none have so far complained. We are providing excellent food and there are facilities. But the doctor said there are chances of the spread of communicable diseases,” he told reporters.

The Minister said the State Government was considering shifting the centre 10 km away. “We have plans to develop the present location on the lines of Lalbagh,” he said.