Friday, May 16, 2008

Addiction Centre at DAC,Mumbai, Forcefully Evicted

Thursday, 8th May 2008, started off as a perfectly normal day for the patients and staff of Kripa Foundation De-addiction Centre (DAC), Andheri. This facility, as the name denotes, is the place where addicts / alcoholics are admitted to detoxify their bodies from the physical withdrawal symptoms that are caused by alcohol and drug abuse. All inmates who are admitted here have been beaten on all fronts by the drug of their choice, namely, mental, physical, spiritual, financial, social, etc. It takes a great deal of effort and hard work on the part of the counselors and community staff to maintain the level of motivation among these clients.

Things progressed normally until 11:00 am when the harrowing ordeal began. The Chief Medical Officer – BMC along with a dozen police personnel, 10 – 15 BMC employees and some labourers barged into the centre. What looked like a routine inspection was soon transformed into a nightmare. The Kripa staff team was astounded when they were informed that the BMC had issued orders for immediate eviction of the premises. Within a matter of minutes, discipline, which is the order of the day, was replaced with chaos. In the blink of an eye everything movable in the centre was being put outside the gate of Kripa Foundation. There was no place for dialogue or discussion – Patients, some of them hallucinating, others in various stages of withdrawals, most of them in a state of physical depletion, were forced to give up their beds, chairs and other pieces of furniture where they were resting.

The mayhem did not stop here; the documentation and accounts offices also housed in the premises were not spared. Computers were dismantled; files, folders and other records including research material gathered over the last 2 decades were dumped into bags and moved out of the centre. The kitchen was next to bear the brunt. Pots, pans, spoons, knives and other cooking accessories were moved outside the gates. The orders from the BMC authorities were evident – empty the place at any cost. The medical department was also devastated. Medicines were just thrown into bags and moved out of the premises.

The police team was comparatively civilized and well behaved. Ironically, they were there to insure that law and order was maintained. However, the attitude of the BMC officials and employees was extremely condescending. They had no thought at all of the inconvenience being caused to the patients. Their behaviour was INHUMAN towards both the staff as well as the patients.

Being a residential facility, Andheri was home to many a staff; 14 to be precise. All these staff along with the patients were literally thrown on the roads by this callous act.

On learning of the emergency it was the Vasai centre that stepped up and offered to accommodate all the staff and patients. Trucks were hired and all the effects of the Andheri centre, namely food grains, office equipment, computers, furniture, etc. were loaded to be moved to the Vasai rehabilitation centre. Patients were also transported from Andheri to Vasai in these trucks. Very soon, the de-addiction centre which has given a push-start to thousands of addicts and alcoholics over the last 18 years was reduced to cartons, bags, walls and floor.

Today, despite having a capacity of only 40 beds, the Vasai centre has 51 patients apart from the staff. The centre is doing its best to manage the overload quite efficiently without complaint.

Such heartlessness from the elected guardians of our society, against an institution, which has been bending backwards for more than a quarter of a century to eradicate the scourge of addiction and alcoholism from this very same society, is beyond human comprehension. For the BMC it may have been just another day of work; but the trauma and tension that they caused to so many patients in the process will take a long time to overcome, if ever…………..

Submitted by
Gauri Karkhanis
Jimi Amore