For Kamlesh, 40, the world is a charpoy in a tiny, windowless room on the fourth floor of an EWS colony in Sector 38 (West). According to her medical records, she is paraplegic with 80 per cent disability. In the five years that she has been living in her current residence, she has only gone out of the room during medical emergencies which have been aplenty.
Before she shifted here, she lived in a slum in Sector 25 where she spent happier times. There was a wheelchair in the house and her children would take her out in the evenings.
Now, life for her is a perpetual nightmare, thanks to the insensitivity of the UT Administration which allotted the family a house on the fourth floor and just doesn’t listen to their genuine requests for change.
With her husband Naresh Kumar, too, having a disability, getting down to the ground floor is an excruciatingly painful exercise.
“She cannot walk at all, and has never attended any family function, visited her neighbours across her room, or even gone down to get some fresh air in the last five years,’’ said Naresh.But that is only part of the problem.
“She somehow got a needle embedded in her stomach which cannot be taken out because doctors at GMSH-16 say it is a risky operation. She is on medicine but suffers from intense pain frequently, often in the middle of the night. Then, two or three neighbours are required to carry her downstairs which takes at least half an hour, and takes a heavy toll on her. Then we take her to GMSH-16,” said Naresh.
A small-time vendor, Naresh himself is disabled and can walk with great difficulty. He doesn’t have a wheelchair. The couple gets the disability pension, but that is not sufficient. Naresh sells some odd items on the ground floor, but requires assistance all the time.
Since the couple’s 16-year-old son is mostly away to school or work, it is the neighbours who help him.
“I have known the family for long. They were doing quite well when we were in a colony in Sector 25.
Ever since they shifted here, life for the family has become very difficult,” said Ram Bahadur, a neighbour. “If they get a house downstairs, at least she can see the world again. Over here, she gets filled with gloom and hopelessness.”
In the last five years, Naresh has made countless trips to the Chandigarh Housing Board office. For every trip, he spends around Rs 150 because he can’t ride a cycle and has to hire an autorickshaw.
“When we were allotted this flat in 2009, I told them we needed a ground-floor flat. We moved in after CHB officials assured me that I would be given a ground-floor apartment as soon as possible. I’ve been running from pillar to post ever since,” said Naresh.
Recently, Naresh went to meet vthe adviser with a representation “who asked me to go to the CHB chairman. I told him I had already met him, but nothing was done. His staff then advised me to go meet the home secretary”.
On Friday, Naresh went to meet the home secretary during the public dealing hour but was told to meet the additional secretary (home). He waited for long before being told to come back some other day as both officers were not in the office.
‘HE USES HIS HANDS TO GET AROUND’
Naresh and Kamlesh are not the only differently abled persons living on the top floors in the EWS colony in Sector 38 (West). Shama, 60, who is afflicted with paraplegia, lives on the third floor. He used to accompany Naresh on his visits to the CHB chairman to request for a ground-floor house.
Residents say at some point he lost all hope and accepted his plight. “Shama lives with his wife and uses his hands to get around. But every time he has to climb down, he needs a lot of assistance,” said Shimla Devi, his neighbour.
Khalik, 64, has a problem in his knees and both he and his wife regularly visit GMCH-32 for treatment of various conditions associated with old age. “But I have never written to the authorities to shift me downstairs,” he said. “When they did not help Kamlesh, why would they listen to me?”