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Three years on,no homes for mentally ill

As many marked the World Mental Health Day,women treated for mental disorders at the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences in Dilshad Garden,continued to be in a temporary home for the mentally ill.

Written by Pritha Chatterjee | New Delhi |
October 11, 2011 2:15:16 am

As many marked the World Mental Health Day,women treated for mental disorders at the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS) in Dilshad Garden,continued to be in a temporary home for the mentally ill.

Started by the government after a Delhi High Court order in 2009,the temporary home in Kabir Basti,Malkaganj,is run by an NGO Sudinalay.

Originally an amphitheatre,built by the MCD in 1988,the complex had remained unused for decades. In 2009,while reviewing the condition of mental healthcare services,the court had directed the Delhi government to set up a 20-bedded facility in the area,with immediate effect. However,after providing land,the government failed to provide any finances or arrange for the repairs of the structure.

With a densely populated basti in front,and forests on both sides,the structure has no proper entry or exit gates. Security issues were of great concern as repeated instances of break-ins were reported. Hence,it took another court order,for the police to provide a 24X7 protection to the home. At the rear of the structure is a garbage dump,infested with mosquitoes,and where people defecate in the open.

It has dilapidated doors and windows,which do not close properly,and has a narrow balcony with only two-feet-high grills. “This is nothing. Many of these women are violent,I am always worried about one of them attempting suicide,” a caretaker said.

Of the 25 women,two are paralysed below the waist,two are HIV positive,and one has spinal tuberculosis.

The court had also directed the Health and Social Welfare departments of the Delhi government to set up and run 18 such homes — within a year. Further,an expert committee appointed by the High Court — consisting of Dr Nimesh Desai,director of IHBAS,Sreerupa Mitra Chaudhury,who runs Sudinalay and Dr Anchal Bhagat,consultant psychiatrist at Apollo Hospital — were to submit quarterly reports on the development of the homes. However,three years since,no such homes have been set-up.

Defending her department,Social Welfare minister Dr Kiran Walia said though the Rs 60-crore project has been approved by the Finance department,the Cabinet approval is still awaited. “Procuring land from the DDA,getting clearances from the Finance department,and the architectural design approved by Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (DSIIDC) took time,” said Walia.

While Walia still hesitates in giving a deadline for the project,Sreerupa Chaudhury who has been running the ‘temporary home’ for the last three years,and another similar home on her own since 1989,has written to the new acting Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court to request his intervention.

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