Natural deaths, no negligence: Govt

The four deaths in government-run centre for the mentally challenged, Asha Kiran, have been termed as "natural", with Social Welfare Minister Kiran Walia claiming that there has been no "no negligence on the part of the administration".

"The inmates were suffering from severe medical conditions. Their medical complications included tuberculosis, hepatitis and epileptic seizures. Cold and negligence were not the reason for the deaths," Walia said.

She said the government had made adequate arrangements before the start of winter. These included distribution of woollen clothes and blankets, installation of geysers in all bathrooms and kettles in dormitories.

She said monitoring committees visit the shelter home regularly and submit their reports to the government.

"All four were undergoing treatment in different government hospitals,'' Walia said, while admitting that overcrowding was a problem at the centre.

"We will be shifting about 500 inmates to the new complexes in the next four months. We have renovated a building in Narela where 200-220 inmates would be moved. Similarly, a part of Nirmal Chhaya (a house meant for destitute women) has been upgraded to accommodate 100 women inmates of Asha Kiran. We have also increased the capacity of Asha Kiran by building a new section, where 160 inmates would be moved," Walia said

Kamla Lekhwani, Chairperson of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) said, "... they are age and illness related deaths and not (due to) the winters."

"It's a home for the mentally challenged and every inmate is kept under close supervision. There are hygiene-related issues and the home is filled much over its capacity," Lekhwani said.

During a hearing on August 8, 2012, the Delhi High Court had slammed the government over the conditions in which the inmates were being kept at the home. The court had termed it the "worst kind of human rights violation". The court was perusing a report submitted by a court-appointed committee, which inspected the welfare home.

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