Staff Reporter

Thiruvananthapuram: `Saakshaatkaram', a rehabilitation scheme for beggars scheduled to be launched by the City Corporation on Thursday, is primarily aimed at crushing the organised begging rackets that thrive on exploitation of the poor, Mayor C. Jayan Babu said here on Wednesday.

Addressing a press conference, he said many such inter-State rackets were found to be involved in anti-social activities and abuse of children, posing a menace for the public.

The success of the scheme would depend on the support of the police and the judiciary, he said.

Saakshatkaaram is being implemented in collaboration with the Sri Sathya Sai Orphanage Trust.

Outlining the details of the project, the Mayor said beggars soliciting alms in public places would be rounded up with the help of the police. They would be produced in court before being admitted to a shelter house at Kothalam in the Fort ward for rehabilitation.

Each new admission at the shelter would be photographed and registered. He or she would be given new clothes and subjected to a medical examination. Diseased persons would be shifted to General Hospital or the Mental Health Centre.

While infants would be allowed to remain with their parents, older children would be sent to the Juvenile Home.

The orphanage trust has agreed to foot the cost of food, clothing and medical aid for the inmates. The shelter house has facilities to accommodate up to 100 persons at a time.

It is equipped with separate dormitories, dining halls, lockers and toilets for men and women and a common kitchen. Two colour television sets have also been provided. Trust director Anantharaj said the inmates would be provided three meals every day. "A visiting doctor will keep a tab on the health of the inmates," he said.

"We have had several rounds of discussions with residents associations, NGOs, the police and the Railway Police to seek their assistance for the project. The District Collector is expected to issue an order banning begging in the city. The ban order will ensure legal backing for our efforts," Mr. Jayan Babu said.

Chairman of the Corporation's standing committee on Welfare P. Rajendra Das said beggars willing to return home from the rehabilitation centre would be released on the condition that they do not return to the city for begging.

Corporation Secretary T.K. Raveendran and senior officials were also present.

Health Minister P.K. Sreemathy will formally inaugurate Saakshaatkaram at a function to be held at the rehabilitation centre on Thursday evening.