Asha Kiran residents will have to wait longer for new home

Months after deaths of inmates highlighted, home for mentally challenged remains overcrowded


Sonal Matharu | June 16, 2011

Eighteen months after Asha Kiran, a home for mentally challenged, was in the news with 12 residents dying within a month in 2009 due to negligence, the centre still faces an acute problem of overcrowding.

In a capacity for 440, the centre is now shelters 836 women, men and children, as against 730 till 2010. The home’s administration informs that more than 50 percent of residents are severely retarded.

Though the administration assures that things are under control and residents’ needs are taken care of, the government’s promise to shift some of them to other centres to ease the burden off Asha Kiran, is still a distant dream.

“The plan to construct a new building in Lampur in Narela with a capacity of 1,500 has been finalised. The layout is also ready. It will take at least a year or two for construction to complete,” said T C Nakh, administrator, Asha Kiran.

Till then there is no alternative but to keep the residents at their present quarters where one cottage meant for 10 to 12 people is giving shelter to over 30 residents.

Delhi’s social welfare minister Kiran Walia said, “We are not considering shifting residents to an alternative location because they get accustomed to one place. But there are arrangements to make more space and hire more aayas there.”

Nakh claims that the facilities at the home have improved drastically. They now have nine in-house doctors and 286 aayas as against four doctors and 46 aayas in 2009. Diapers, hot water bottles and nutritious food is given to all residents. The rooms are also fit with curtains and coolers.

“We cannot refuse admission to any one who meets the criteria. If the court orders them to be accomodated at the centre, we have to make space for them,” said Nakh.

Almost each day the centre gets one or two new entrants, informed superintendent for women’s wing, Sunita Verma.

Delhi government had earlier proposed shifting the residents to old age homes in Dwarka and Bindapur. But the then social welfare minister Mangat Ram Singhal had opposed the move. Nakh said that he was also against the move as the building design did not meet the requirements of the residents.

“The buildings there are multistory with elevators. There are no ramps and no open spaces for the children to play. We cannot send the mentally retarded children to these houses,” he said.

In 2010-11, 11 residents died at the centre. The number was as high as 24 in 2009-10.

“When the home was constructed it wasn’t expected that there would be so much demand. The home is now able to meet only half the demand,” said Walia.



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