Policy & Issues

Leprosy rehabilitation centre inmates fear losing their home

A REFUGE FOR THEM: The Sumanahalli Leprosy Rehabilitation Centre has 365 inmates, including 120 leprosy-affected, 40 HIV positive and 30 persons with disabilities. File Photo: K. Murali Kumar  

They have been cast out of society's mainstream; today, they live in fear losing their refuge. Inmates of the Sumanahalli Leprosy Rehabilitation Centre run by the Sumanahalli Solidarity Forum (SSF) are living in uncertainty over losing their home: the State Government is sitting on its hands about renewing the lease of the land allotted to the centre despite repeated pleas.

The State Government, which had allotted it 63 acres on a 30-year lease, had decided to take back the land when the lease expired in 2008. However, following several representations and pleas by SSF members, the Government said it would re-allot five acres. Today, even the intervention of the Karnataka State Human Rights Commission (KSHRC) and Governor H.R. Bhardwaj has cut no ice with the Government.

Expansion plans

SSF director Fr. George Kannanthanam told The Hindu here on Sunday that the centre was awaiting the Government's response as it had several expansion plans. “Although we started a high school this year, we are unable to build the classrooms. The St. Joseph's School that we run has 350 students, of which 30 are in the high school. Most are children of leprosy and HIV-positive persons,” he said.

Fr. Kannanthanam said the nursery section had been shifted to a neighbouring shed to accommodate the high school class. “After mobilising the money required for the construction, we sought special permission from the Social Welfare Department to build the classrooms pending a decision on the lease renewal. But that too has not been given,” he said. When Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda assumed charge, SSF members submitted a fresh representation. “He said he would look into the matter. We're also meeting Governor H.R. Bhardwaj on September 28 seeking his intervention,” Fr. Kannanthanam said.

Land acquired

Of the 63 acres allotted to SSF, 13 were taken away by the Bangalore Development Authority a few years ago to widen the road skirting the campus for the Magadi Road flyover.

“Our appeal to the Government is to renew the lease for the remaining 50 acres as we plan to expand our activities relating to treatment and rehabilitation of leprosy patients,” Fr. Kannanthanam said.

They live here

Apart from the school, the centre has 365 inmates, including 120 leprosy-affected, 40 HIV positive and 30 persons with disabilities. “We provide vocational training to rehabilitate them. We also get houses constructed and get them married too,” he said and added that the residents would become homeless if the land was taken back.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2022 11:17:38 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/health/policy-and-issues/leprosy-rehabilitation-centre-inmates-fear-losing-their-home/article2486476.ece

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