Lepers of Shimla to be rehabilitated


By: Ajai SrivastavaShimla: It was the first programme of its kind in Shimla in which the problems of lepers were discussed at length and their solutions were also suggested. Dr Rajiv Bindal, Health Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Suresh Bhardwaj, local MLA and J S Rana, Deputy Commissioner of Shimla were not only receptive to the suggestions, but they readily agreed to provide a permanent solution to the problems of local lepers. The programme was organised by Manas Kalyan Bahuddeshiya Society (MKBS) – an NGO, working for the welfare of the lepers for the last three years – on February 15, 2008, to distribute blankets and woollens to the lepers who were braving sub zero temperature of Shimla these days. More than thirty lepers, apart from many other people, were present in the function.

Dr Rajiv Bindal, Minister for Health and Ayurveda, HP, distributing blankets and woollens to the lepers of Shimla. Suresh Bhardwaj, local MLA and others are also seen in the picture.

The Health Minister appreciated the efforts of the NGO and said that the BJP government in the vibrant leadership of Prof Prem Kumar Dhumal was committed to work for the cause of the downtrodden, poor and the disabled. The outcome of the function was that the government would make all efforts to rehabilitate the local lepers so that they could live their life in a healthy atmosphere with all human dignity.

Ganesh Datt, patron of MKBS, while welcoming the chief guest Dr Bindal, guest of honour Suresh Bhardwaj and J S Rana, DC Shimla, said that his organisation was running its welfare activities without taking any aid from the government. That included tree plantation, drug de-addiction camps and voluntary blood donation camps etc. Sonia Vats, general secretary, appraised the achievements of the society in past three years. She said that MKBS would further strengthen its work with the help of society and expand it in some new areas.

Ajai Srivastava, Chairman, Society for Disability and Rehabilitation Studies, H P Chapter, said that the lepers living in Down Dale Phagli area were required to be rehabilitated immediately. He said that lack of sanitation, toilets, drinking water and a pucca structure to live in were the major problems of lepers. Their children were deprived of education due to social stigma associated with leprosy. He also shared his many personal experiences with the audience in this regard and made an appeal to the government and the people to come forward to solve the problems of this most disadvantaged class of the society.

Suresh Bhardwaj, MLA, said he was ready to make all efforts for the total empowerment of leper community of the area. He appealed to the people, particularly the social activists to join hands with the administration in this noble cause as the government alone can not do all work in the society. Bhardwaj reminded that in early 90s when he was an MLA, he had got prepared a rehabilitation plan for the lepers. But after the dismissal of the then Shanta Kumar government, no progress could be made.

J S Rana, DC, promised that if a good proposal came for the rehabilitation, he would help in providing land for the cause.

Dr Rajiv Bindal appreciated the efforts of MKBS and said the role of the voluntary organisation was very important in the society. According to him, Prof Dhumal’s government was the govt of common man and this was reflecting from its every action. He said the government would spare no stone unturned in preparing and executing rehabilitation plan for the lepers. He directed the DC to take an initiative in consultation with the department of social justice and empowerment so that the needful could be done immediately. He distributed the blankets to them. Tarsem Bharti, President, All India SC, ST Mahasangh, announced that his organisation would bear all the expenses of two leper families for the next five years. S N Joshi, a well known writer and a former bureaucrat, expressed the need to make a comprehensive rehabilitation plan for the lepers. State BJP Secretary H N Kashyap, President of State Mahila Morcha Rupa Sharma and many other dignitaries were also present in the function.

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