While comparing the refractory errors of students in urban areas with slum-dwellers, the Chandigarh administration has addressed the latter as ‘slum dogs' while concluding that they have better eyesight.

In a release issued on Sunday, the administration states: “The slum dogs of Chandigarh, wallowing in illiteracy, poverty and ignorance, have beaten their blessed brethren in the urban areas, to better eyesight honours. Sounds incredible, but it is true.” The claim is based on a health survey of children, studying in Alternate Innovative Education Centres (AIE), conducted by the Health Department of the Union Territory Administration.

According to the survey, only 3.27 per cent of those living in slums against 8-10 per cent of those coming from the urban areas, were found to have refractory errors.

Paramjyoti, Programme Officer, School Health Programme, said, “The survey was undertaken in the light of such common occurring ailments as malnutrition, anaemia and worm infestation.”

As many as 6,852 students of 88 AIE centres were medically examined. The teams carried out complete eye check-up of children for refractory errors and other eye ailments. Only 224 children [3.24 per cent] were found to have refractory errors. Thirty of them had been given spectacles free of cost under the Blindness Control Programme. “Out of these, 134 [1.81 per cent] children were found to be suffering from Bitot's Spots, and they are being treated with Vitamin A supplements. Three children had cataract problem and two of them have been operated upon successfully, and the third one would be operated upon soon.”

“I think it may be because of less exposure of the slum dogs to new technology. They go to school late, view TV less, and eat whatever their mothers give them coated with mother's affection and love.”