Fund crunch pushes Chennai Corporation's shelter homes to the brink

The NGOs said that they have not been taken into confidence to discuss the sudden delay in disbursement of funds.
The corporation night shelter on the KMC campus in Chennai. (Photo| P Jawahar, EPS)
The corporation night shelter on the KMC campus in Chennai. (Photo| P Jawahar, EPS)

CHENNAI: Several NGOs running the Corporation-owned shelter homes are struggling to stay afloat as fund for the homes has not been released for over six months. They are forced to depend on donors to take care of the occupants.

Central Government funds under the National Urban Livelihoods Mission (NULM) Scheme for shelters that are older than five years have not been released, resulting in pending dues of around Rs 10 lakh to each shelter since October-November last year, according to corporation officials.

"Since October, we have been paying staff salaries and taking care of the childrens' expenses including clothing and stationery from our own pockets. We are also relying on food donations," said the executive director of an NGO that runs a children's shelter.

The NGOs said that they have not been taken into confidence to discuss the sudden delay in disbursement of funds. In addition, the contracts of around 35 NGOs have not yet been renewed this year. The contract for the NGOs who are the implementing agencies for the shelter programme are renewed every year. In total, the city corporation runs 51 shelters. "Usually, our contracts get renewed in January but this time it has not been so far. This has raised doubts about the corporation’s will to continue with the shelter programme," she added.

The coordinator of another NGO that currently takes care of 35 children said that staff were disgruntled with delay in pay. "The quality of work will drop when there is a delay in salary for months. Especially when the work involves taking care of children we need our staff to give their all," she said.

Activists stressed the need for a comprehensive policy that also focuses on rescue and rehabilitation services. "A policy is required to facilitate convergence of schemes and services by different departments. In addition, introduction of a State scheme for homeless shelters with budgetary allocation is required as the shelter for urban homeless scheme under the National Urban Livelihood Mission does not support shelters that are functioning for more than five years and the existing scheme does not have fund allocation for rescue and rehabilitation services," said Vanessa Peter, founder of Information and Resource Centre for the Deprived Urban Communities (IRCDUC).

When contacted corporation officials said funds under NULM have not been disbursed and they were discussing mobilising funds under other schemes. "We are planning to use the Swarna Jayanti Shahari Rozgar Yojana (SJSRY) funds instead," said a senior corporation official who added that the renewal of contracts will be done soon.

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