Nine children found illegally housed at Paleswaram hospice
A branch of the facility in Vellore has been shut down, 13 inmates shifted
Nine children were found to be housed illegally at the St. Joseph’s Hospice in Paleswaram, Kancheepuram district. After an incident in which the body of an inmate who had expired was sent in a grocery van attracted public attention, an inspection at the home revealed documents were not in order. Many of the inmates were relocated to other homes.
Officials of the Department of Social Welfare and Nutritious Meal Programme were stunned to find that the children, along with a caretaker, were living on the premises of a hospice, meant to take care of people in the last stage of their life. The department is in the process of relocating the children. Four of these children were below the age of five.
The management of the hospice could not produce the building stability certificate, according to officials. They added that an inspection revealed that the institution lacked proper records, and sanitation and other amenities meant for its 255 inmates were found to be wanting.
On Tuesday, during another round of inspection on the premises, it came to light that the hospice had been lodging nine children, three boys and six girls, between the age of one and nine in one of the rooms. “We found them by chance. The hospice does not have any registration to house them,” the official said.
Officials said that by housing children below the age of five, the management had violated the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2015.
Call for action
Members from the Kancheepuram Child Welfare Committee (CWC) insisted that strict action be taken against the management for illegally accommodating children.
“Luckily, the children were found, else they would have hidden them. We need more coordination among various departments to ensure the safety of children,” said Zaheeruddin Mohamad, member of the Committee.
On further inquiry, it was found that most children were placed at the home by single parents, mainly mothers, due to adverse circumstances.
However, till all details are verified, the children will be lodged at a registered home in Manapakkam, which also provides shelter to women in need.
District officials on Wednesday sealed a unit of St. Joseph’s Hospice in Tiruvalam, Vellore district, and shifted 13 of its inmates to two approved old age homes.
Collector S.A. Raman said that the old age home was functioning without permission.
“The village administrative officer and panchayat secretary told us that the home was functioning for the last two to three months. This is a unit of St. Joseph’s Hospice in Paleswaram in Kancheepuram district,” Mr. Raman said.
Based on information, a team of officials visited the hospice at Tiruvalam. Officials said that, earlier, a teachers’ training centre was functioning at the place.
The hospice management took over the building and started operations. However, it was not registered with the district administration.
Mr. Raman said there were seven women and six men at the hospice.
“They were very old. Three of them are very ill. Most of them were destitutes. We have shifted them to two approved homes in the district. We also arranged for health checks for the persons through the Joint Director of Medical and Rural Health services,” he said.
The Collector has directed officials to inspect old age homes across the district to check if they were authorised. “I have asked the District Social Welfare Officer to begin checking,” he said.