COVID-19: Telangana Wakf Board refuses Centre's plea to convert Haj House into quarantine centre

By J.S. Ifthekhar  Published on  5 April 2020 2:20 PM GMT
COVID-19: Telangana Wakf Board refuses Centres plea to convert Haj House into quarantine centre

Hyderabad: As the number of Corona virus cases has been increasing in the country, the Central government has been looking for buildings to use as quarantine centres. Resources of the private sector, NGOs, and international organisations are being tapped to contain and manage the pandemic in association with the state governments, Union Territory administrations, civil society organisations, and other stakeholders.

The Centre has constituted an empowered group under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 to coordinate with the private sector and NGOs for COVID-19 response-related activities. Services of NGOs registered under the FCRA 2010 are being enlisted to complement government efforts to contain the virus.

Anil Malik, the additional secretary of the ministry of Home affairs, has written to the heads of various NGOs in the state and asked them to let them use buildings, if any, in their possession to set up makeshift COVID-19 hospital or quarantine centres. The buildings could be hospitals, school campuses, or any other large space. The NGOs have also been requested to assist the local administration in identifying hotspots and deputing volunteers and caregivers to extend services to elderly persons, those with disabilities, children, transgender persons, and other vulnerable groups. They have further been told to help the administration in setting up community kitchens, particularly for migrants and homeless persons.

"You have a special role to play in creating awareness about COVID-19, especially in vernacular languages, and partnering with the administration in promoting social and behavioural changes," Mr Malik urged the NGOs.

Helping Hand Foundation (HHF), the Hyderabad-based public health organisation, has two rehabilitation centres at Rajendernagar and Kukatpally for the elderly and paralytic patients. "We have expressed our inability to offer these premises for quarantine as there are already patients here," said Mujtaba Hasan Askari, HHF founder.

However, the HHF is actively taking part in distributing ration kits to the needy. So far, it has helped 50,000 people in the slum areas and provided them with ration kits containing essential items to last 15 days. Besides this, it is also distributing cooked food to migrant workers across the city.

The Central government has also decided to convert the premises of Haj Houses in different states into temporary quarantine centres. At least 16 Haj Houses have been identified for this purpose. However, the Telangana State Wakf Board, which owns the Haj House in Hyderabad, has politely refused the request of the Union minister for minority affairs, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, to hand over the premises. The 11-storey Haj House is home to several government offices, including the Wakf Board, Minority Finance Corporation, District Minority Welfare Officer, and the State Urdu Academy. Moreover, the rooms here are not suitable to house quarantine patients, said Mohammed Khasim, the chief executive officer of the Wakf Board.

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