Beggar rehabilitation to the fore again

Beggar rehabilitation is once again to the fore in the GHMC’s list of activities, following the city’s inclusion for the pilot project by the Central government for comprehensive rehabilitation of persons engaged in begging.

Hyderabad is among the 10 cities chosen for implementation of the pilot by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, alongside Patna, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Delhi, Kolkata, Lucknow, Indore and Nagpur.

GHMC had submitted proposals and action plan for ₹ 4 crore, and was sanctioned ₹2 crore for the project, as far back as March last year. Of the balance, 40% was to be released on submission of execution report of the programme as mentioned in the city action plan, and 10% upon submission and acceptance of project completion report.

On the ground, however, there is no trace of any measure in that direction even after 10 months have elapsed, as the COVID-19 lockdown and October floods happened in quick succession followed by elections to GHMC Council.

In view of an online review meeting with the ministry scheduled for January 13, GHMC commissioner D.S.Lokesh Kumar on Wednesday issued express directions to field level officials asking them to focus on beggar rehabilitation.

Accordingly a survey needs to be conducted to identify the persons involved in begging, before they are shifted to rescue homes. Skill development trainings should be organised for them to ensure integration into mainstream society and a life with dignity and self-confidence.

The circular has asked all the zonal and deputy commissioners to convene regular meetings of the circle level and zonal level task force committees, and identify persons involved in begging. Suitable buildings should be identified for being designated as rescue homes—at least one in each zone with basic facilities and infrastructure. As per the guidelines, each shelter home should provide for at least 50 to 100 persons. Living arrangements should be separate for males, females, children and transgender persons.

The rescued persons should be provided hygienic facilities, food, clothing, bedding, medical facilities, counselling and education, through involvement of NGOs which have been working in the field. Aadhaar registration is to be done along with opening of bank accounts. In case of children, they should be mainstreamed into education, and after school tuitions need to be provided. Skill development programmes should be conducted for able-bodied adults, before mapping them to appropriate jobs/professions such as security guards, domestic hleps and vegetable vendors.

Linkages with homes for the aged should be established for the old and decrepit, while physically/mentally disabled persons should be provided required welfare measures and assistance.

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