Print edition : July 02, 2010

Leprosy patients of Bharathapuram near Anbu Thondu Nilayam, Chengalpattu.-M. KARUNAKARAN

IT is not true that all migrants, persons belonging to families living below the poverty line, and homeless or street children resort to begging. A vast majority of them take up manual labour, ragpicking or sundry jobs to eke out a living. It is unfortunate that even hawkers selling materials at traffic signals are described as beggars, an activist said.

Bharathapuram near Chengalpattu in Tamil Nadu provides a classic example of migrants not choosing beggary for survival. Afflicted by leprosy, they have set up a housing colony in the hamlet adjacent to the Central Leprosy Training and Research Institute, where they get treatment. The residents of the colony hail from Mumbai, Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Puducherry, and from other parts of Tamil Nadu. The 150-odd families there live in absolute harmony.

Some 60 persons of Bharathapuram go to Chennai and other nearby places to seek alms, while the majority of them, despite severe deformities, lead a decent life managing tea stalls, maintaining telephone booths, running haircutting salons and doing manual labour.

Some of them are even government employees, P. Abarajithan, a resident of the colony, said. Although we have been living at Bharathapuram for over six decades, we have not got house site pattas yet, he said.

The demand for house sites has been voiced also by some of the inmates of the rehabilitation home for leprosy patients at Paranur in Kancheepuram district.

S. Dorairaj
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