Special Correspondent

SALEM: To bolster its drive against mentally ill people who wander in the streets of the city, the district administration in co-ordination with Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) has formed an exclusive committee, which in future, will pick them up from the streets and help the administration in its endeavour of rehabilitate them.

This drive against these unfortunate people will have a two-pronged approach - humanitarian and deterrence.

Monitored by the District Disabled Rehabilitation Office, the District administration, according to Collector J. Chandrakumar, will extend all possible assistance to those who come forward to open rehabilitation homes in Salem, which, despite being a major Tier-II city, does not boast one.

The city, situated closer to Bangalore and well-connected with many major cities in North India through rail link, of late has witnessed a spurt in the presence of many mentally ill people – mostly abandoned on city streets – forcing its citizens to file a series of complaints with the district administration.

On instructions from the Collector, the YWCA and a few other NGOs took the lead role by undertaking a drive, the first of its kind here, on July 10 and picked up six of them, all males, of whom one was a Bihari. They were above the age of 30 and had been abandoned by their relatives.

After the mandatory legal formalities, they were sent to Salem Government Medical College Hospital where they were bathed, had their hair cut and were given a shave.

On Thursday, the Collector distributed new clothes to them, donated by YWCA members and saw them off to a home at Dharmapuri where they would be housed till such a time when they could recognize their identity so that they could be sent to their places. While congratulating the people, officials and doctors who had been involved in the noble cause, the Collector asked the people to contact YWCA on phone number 2312468 and District Rehabilitation Office on 2415242 whenever they come across any such people.

District Disabled Rehabilitation Officer Joseph D. Ravi told The Hindu that the six were brought under the District Mental Health Project in Dharmapuri since the home was situated there.

“We will extend all help to those who come forward to open homes for these people, separately for men and women,” he said.