Management of private old age homes in Chandigarh is in shambles these days. Most old age homes in the city are functioning at half capacity as they do not have enough funds or donations to operate fully. The question arises: Is the City Beautiful prepared to take care of its elderly?
Kartar Aasra,a home for the old and destitute at the bank of Lake Sukhna,is self-run and does not charge its tenants. Running it completely on donations,its managers long for more funds.
Charan Kamal Kaur,who is the manager of Kartar Asra Old Age Home says We have 8 tenants here,although we can keep about 50. We sincerely feel that grants from the government for us and many other private old age homes would improve our condition in leaps and bounds.
We receive about 10-15 applications each day,but we are totally unable to keep more occupants for now due to lack of funds, she adds.
On the other hand,Sathya Sai Old Age Home in Sector 30 Chandigarh has closed its admissions for the last four years. It has only 10 tenants in 5 out of 12 rooms,who pay on a regular basis to the trust,though it has a capacity of keeping 25 persons. Insiders reveal that talks are on to open admission into the old age home due to pressure from the government.
We have inspected Sathya Sai Old Age Home,and asked the trust to open up their admissions. The Chandigarh administration had intended the land for an Old Age Home and we certainly want it to be fully utilized, says Varsha Khangwal,the chief general manager of the Social Welfare Department of UT Chandigarh.
Talks about keeping more elderly people are on now,since we have a few vacancies. We have had many elderly people coming here for help and shelter,and there is a demand for this. However we have to pay special attention to the finances and space available,which is quite tight for now, says B Bhardwaj,president of the District Sathya Sai Trust.
He insists that the reason for not keeping more tenants in their upper floor is due to the elderly being unable to climb stairs as we can not construct lifts due to lack of funds.
To this,Khangwal says,We are ready to provide financial help to the private old age homes,for lifts and other amenities if a proposal is drawn out by the their committees. Also,we are currently planning to open up a new old age home in Sector 34. The Chandigarh administration is on its way to draw up a blueprint for this new old age home, she adds.
Brig Keshav,former president of the Senior Citizen Association,says,There is clearly a need for the government to look into the matter of providing grants to private old age homes. Also,there is a strong need for leasing out land for more private old age homes and special homes for the extremely poor and old.
TO ensure that the elderly are looked after properly in the old age homes,the Punjab and Haryana High Court,a fortnight back,had directed the UT State Services Authority to ensure that old age homes are visited at least once a month to enquire about the plight of those living in the old age homes.
The directions were passed on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a local resident demanding directions to the Chandigarh Administration to ameliorate the condition of old age homes in Chandigarh.
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