State has 24k beggars, finds survey

State has 24k beggars, finds survey

Sharp contrast between B’lore Urban and Rural; NGO urges govt to rehabilitate the destitute

In what is said to be the first-of-its-kind “authentic beggar report” in the country, the State government has “officially” identified the presence of 24,452 beggars across Karnataka. 

The report presents a sharp contrast between Bangalore Urban and Rural districts. While Bangalore Rural has the most identified beggars (7,745) in the State, Bangalore Urban has only 619 of them. Gulbarga comes second with 1,303 beggars followed by Chitradurga (847). 

Yadgir has the least number of beggars (26) followed by Kodagu (36). As per the survey, 56.9 per cent of the beggars are male, 42.2 per cent female and 0.9 transgender. Almost 88 per cent of the beggars are aged 30 or above. 

A shocking aspect of the report is that 13,677 or 62.1 per cent of the beggars are physically and mentally sound. Only 20 per cent are sick or physically, visually and mentally challenged. 

Their most-favoured places to seek alms are streets (8,425), temples (3,775), mosques (2,104), bus stands (1,973), railway stations (1,105) and Nirashrithara Parihara Kendras (1,618). 

Strong criticism

The government had faced strong criticism in 2010 after scores of inmates at the Beggars’ Colony in Bangalore died of an epidemic. Many non-profit organisations compelled the government to take note of the pathetic conditions of beggars and urged it to come out with a programme to rehabilitate them. 

A non-profit organisation, Rashtrotthana Sankalp Trust (RASTR), even filed a public interest litigation (PIL) petition in the High Court. Apparently succumbing to the pressure, the government released a survey report titled ‘Karnataka State Level Technology Based Beggars’ a week ago.

It said the survey was aimed at finding out a solution to this “social evil” which has a bearing on the reputation of the State. Santosh P Nargund of RASTR said the government sat on the report for more than a year and released it only after the NGO complained to the High Court. 

“Our contention was that on what basis the government releases funds for the rehabilitation of beggars and the eradication of beggary from society when it does not have any official statistics on beggars,” he said. 

Nargund said he doubted the authenticity of the report. Nonetheless, the government now has official statistics on beggars, which will help it in releasing funds for their welfare, he added. 

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