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Leprosy Hospital in Srinagar

Photographer: Farooq Khan

 

Life for lepers in their hospitalized colony in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir, is not easy and not only because of their health condition. Their living conditions at the hospital – first founded by the British around 1891 – deteriorate yearly with insufficient food, crumbling accommodation and lack of clothing. A monthly government grant of 400 INR (about 5.68 EUR) means they run out of basic food items long before the month is out and cost of medical care is beyond their reach.

 

The 14 huts built by the British over a century ago today are in dilapidated condition, crumbling away as each year passes with the outer walls defaced with perceptible cracks, even though this colony turned hospital is maintained by the Kashmir state government. The huts are split into three to five rooms with each room housing a family of anything from five to seven people. With just 64 rooms for a population of just over a hundred people overcrowding is added to their woes. A project initiated by the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) five years ago for the construction of 150 new huts has shown only slow progress and the finished huts have yet to be allotted to the families.

 

In addition to the monthly pensions, the Kashmir state government provides free rations to the leper patients, including rice, flour, oil, tea, vegetables, milk and other essential commodities; however the amounts have not increased over the past years even though the population has grown meanwhile, according to leper patient Mia Khatana, a resident of the colony.