Mumbai: Blind home leaves students to starve, government steps in to help
Students at Jogeshwari's Muncherjee Nowrojee Banajee Industrial Home were told they wouldn’t get meals after asking for eggs once a month; state will also appoint administrator for institute
After trustees at an industrial training institute for the visually impaired left 40-odd students in the lurch by refusing to provide them with meals, the state government had to step in to ensure things run smoothly. For the past one month, the students had been managing thanks to help from the MNS and local residents.
Social Justice Minister Rajkumar Badole (second from left) and MNS’ Shalini Thackeray with the students at the industrial residential home
Visually impaired students at the Muncherjee Nowrojee Banajee Industrial Home for the Blind in Jogeshwari (West) had been denied food for the past one month because they had demanded eggs once a month in their meals. The institute serves as a residence and training centre, where the blind can receive vocational training and develop skills that will enable them to secure jobs.
After students put in a written request asking that an egg dish be included in their meals, the kitchen at the home stopped working on March 16 and had remained shut until yesterday. Santosh Kadam (30), who has been studying at the home for the past four years, told mid-day that the management had refused them food only because they wanted egg curry once in a month.
“Also, the management refused us financial help for self-employment, though it had been pledged through the interest money on the fixed deposits that had been made in the name of the trust by a donor,” alleged Kadam, who belongs to Hadgaon in Nanded.
For the past 30 days or so, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), in association with locals, has been providing food breakfast, lunch, and dinner to the students. Shalini Thackeray, MNS’ vice-president, took up the issue with the social justice ministry and the minister paid the home a visit yesterday.
Putting house in order
Social Justice Minister Rajkumar Badole told mid-day that he has asked his officials to manage day-to-day affairs of the residential industrial home. The officials also started the home’s kitchen yesterday, and the government is in process of appointing an administrator for the school. On his visit to the institute yesterday, Badole saw many deficiencies.
“The trustees did not turn up for a meeting which I held on the industrial home’s premises today (Friday). I don’t understand how the trust can leave the hapless students in a lurch. From now on, the students will get a proper meal and facilities,” Badole told mid-day. He said that the skills development training at the institute did not adhere to the government regulations although it had received a grant from the social justice department.
Another student, Sayaji Wagh (24), thanked the people who helped them in their struggle. “The LPG cylinders were made available today for running our kitchen, which had stopped working from March 16. The government officers are managing things here after we told the minister about our misery,” he said.
Thackeray told mid-day that she had been raising the issues related to the M N Banajee Trust for the past four years with the trustees and the government. “Trust officials, (Pranav) Mujumdar and (Shrikant) Bapat, have been behaving so badly with the students that students are not ready to stay here. The home has a capacity of 100, but only 40 students are left now.
The trust gets huge donations from benevolent people, but the trustees don’t want to spend the money on welfare schemes,” she said, adding that the trust stopped all activities when the students gave a written complaint last month.
After the complaint, which pertained to issues related to food and funds, among others, was registered, no classes or training sessions had taken place at the institute. Many of the programmes resumed yesterday after the government’s intervention.
The other side
When we called the institute’s office, a security official told us that the management had stopped attending the office. At the time of going to print, the no response had been received to queries we had sent on email.