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Times of India
31 July 2010
By Ashish Tripathi
Lucknow, India

The state government had planned to set up a mechanism by July for providing shelter homes to mentally retarded destitutes in partnership with the non–government organisations (NGOs). The decision was taken after the high court expressed concern over the issue while hearing a public interest litigation highlighting plight of such destitutes. But the process has not picked up as yet, delaying the project by 2–3 months. An estimated over 5,000 mentally retarded destitutes abandoned by their families are living on the streets in UP.

The social welfare department and disabled welfare department had jointly prepared the plan which proposed that government will fund the NGOs willing to run shelter homes. At present, there are only two shelter homes with a capacity of 50 for mentally retarded destitute children for boys in Allahabad and girls in Lucknow. But both the homes are in dire straits.

Also, not many NGOs run shelter homes for such children because they need round–the–clock care. The disabled welfare department shortlisted six NGOs in the state after verifying that they have been working for the cause since long. While two homes were from Lucknow, one each were in Moradabad, Etawah, Basti and Sultanpur.

However, ‘insensitivity’ on part of a senior official delayed the project and later the plan was also revised. It has now been decided that first homes will be started in Lucknow. Other districts will be included in the second phase. The NGOs will get Rs 3500 per destitute per month for providing food, shelter, clothes and care.

The capacity of homes would be of 50 each. The NGOs have to submit the project report with district disabled welfare officer who will get the proposals approved from the district magistrate and the divisional commissioner before sending it to the state disabled welfare department. The latter will then place the project before the government for sanctioning funds.

Significantly, the government was also constructing three homes in Bareilly, Meerut and Gorakhpur for mentally retarded destitute above 18 years of age. A home was proposed in Allahabad. But all the three have proved to be a non–starter At present, there is no home for mentally retarded adult destitute. Frequent transfer of principal secretaries and secretaries of disabled welfare department have also acted as an hurdle. Only few officers pursued the cause seriously.

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