Against the backdrop of the horrific sexual abuse cases at the shelter homes in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, the Union Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry has called for setting up local project committees comprising parents of inmates among others in the districts where residential homes are being run under its aegis.
The move aims to ensure safety of the inmates at the residential homes being run under schemes namely Samarth and Gharaunda and Vikaas. These programmes are operating under the National Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilties Act of 1999. The National Trust is an autonomous body under the Social, Justice and Empowerment Ministry.
An official in the Ministry said that the members will include parents of five inmates, three local doctors and lawyers and three college or school teachers in the region where centres are set up. They will hold monthly meeting and submit a report to the Ministry, said the sources. In many instances, children of poor families, who cannot afford to look after them, stay in the shelter homes.
They said that the move follows an audit report by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences' (TISS) which found that sexual abuse of varying forms and degree of intensity was prevalent in almost all shelter homes in Bihar.
"The panel will keep a tab on the functioning of these Centres run under the National Trust Act," the official added.
However, shortage of funds and poor response from the stakeholders has failed the beneficiaries: both the schemes have poor coverage when compared to a large number of people from the poor sector needing such benefits. For instance, under the Gharaunda scheme, 50 projects have been sanctioned in which a total number of 993 inmates benefitted. Just 14 projects have been approved in 2017-18 and Rs 4 crore released.
The Gharaunda scheme aims to provide an assured home and minimum quality of care services throughout the life of the persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, mental retardation and multiple disabilities as mandated in the National Trust Act. Also, adequate and quality care service with acceptable living standards including provision of basic medical care from professional doctors besides vocational activities are provided. Each centre has intake capacity for 20 PwDs.
Similarly, Samarth is a respite care residential scheme aims to provide respite home for orphans or abandoned, families in crisis and also PwDs under the National Trust Act. Under the scheme, 45 projects have been sanctioned in which a total 1102 beneficiaries benefitted. In 2017-18, just 11 projects got approval. The Government has provided Rs 3.05 crore for the year.
Vikaas is yet another programme providing day-care facilities for the PwDs above 10 years of age. It offers day-care facilities including vocational skills. Under the scheme, 124 projects have been sanctioens in which 3157 beneficiaries. In 2017-18, 17 projects were sanctioned. The beneficiaries list is too dismal, if one goes by the number of persons suffering with intellectual disabilities in the country. Most of them are from the marginalized section, needing the help from the State.
The 2011 Census data estimates that only 2.21 percent of the Indian population has a disability — including 1.5 million people with intellectual disabilities and a mere 722,826 people with psychosocial disabilities. However, the Health Ministry claims that over 6-7 percent of the population has psychosocial disabilities alone.