Onlt three teachers teach 260 children at the government-run Mentally Deficient Children’s (MDC) Home in Mankhurd, according to a report submitted to the Bombay High Court. The MDC home, with 303 inmates, has two nurses among its staff, but the posts of a medical officer, six attendants, a driver, a counselor, a child psychologist, another nurse and two occupational therapists remain vacant.
“The home remains understaffed as the sanctioned posts are only 22 for 303 children and adult inmates,” said the report submitted by lawyers Arya Raje and Mani Prakash, who were appointed by the court to visit the home on January 21, in a PIL filed by the Disability Rights Initiative.
The report also said, “There is no provision for training the attendants and other staff for sensitisation towards the intellectually disabled children, which has, on several accounts, resulted in abuse of children.”
Raje said several times, children get violent and hit each other, but the attendants do not know how to bring them under control.
While 40 of the 303 inmates of the home attend school, the rest are sent to workshops of jewellery-making, tailoring and craft within the institution.
“The report highlights the need for taking necessary steps for re-integrating children with mild to borderline retardation with the society, but in absence of occupational therapists, the children merely remain within the institution,” a division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice M S Sanklecha noted in their order last month.
Madhukar Katawate, inspector (gazetted) with the state commissioner for persons with disabilities (CPD), however, stated in an affidavit filed on February 12, that following a government resolution on January 30, the CPD has issued directions to all MDC homes to categorise ‘mentally retarded’ inmates as per their IQ and age-group and make special arrangements for education and vocational training based on that.
The government is trying to fill up the vacancies in MDC homes expeditiously, Katawate added.
The court observed that the report “highlights the absence of adequate infrastructure as there are only five dormitories provided for 150 children.”
Katawate, however, said “at present, these five dormitories are sufficient to accommodate 150 mentally retarded children.”
Katawate added, “Considering the relevant infrastructure, that is, building facilities etc, the said MDC Home at Mankhurd has a sanctioned strength of 350 inmates from the government and presently there are 303 inmates.”
He further said a five-day training programme was held for the lower rung staff of such homes in Pune in January and they were taught to take care of children with special needs. The court will hear the case further on February 24.