With only 23 districts out of the 32 in the State having Government-run orphanages for girls, there has been a repeated plea from non-Governmental organisations that the other districts too are sanctioned one each.

This has become a necessity not only because there is a demand because of the large numbers, but also because of the new scheme introduced by the State Government that ensures free college education as well as permission for the girls to stay in the Government homes till they complete graduation.

Earlier, this was not the case. The girls had to leave once they turned 18.

After constant demand, the Government relaxed the age to 21 years or till the completion of graduation to ensure that the girls with no parents or with single parent and no means to study have the option of taking up higher education while living in a protected environment.

While there are many private homes for children, Government-run homes in the name of Sathya Ammaiyar Ninaivu Arasu Kuzhanthaigal Kaapagam are very few.

For example, in Coimbatore itself there are nearly 65 private homes, while in the whole of the State there are only 27 Government-run homes.

While 19 districts have one orphanage each, four have two each, and nine do not have even one.

According to Sherin Philip, District Social Welfare Officer, Coimbatore, with more and more girls from the lower income strata showing interest in higher education, such homes will be a welcome attraction. This will ensure poor girls safe shelter and education.

T. Sampath Kumar, managing trustee of ‘Save Our Daughters India’ movement, which is involved in educating poor girls, says: “Some incidents that have threatened the safety of girls in private homes have made it an urgent need to have Government homes in all districts. This will also avoid these hapless girls from being shifted from one private home to the other.”

“There is an immediate need to set up one in Tirupur. The State Government should allot the land for which the building fund can come in the form of contribution from the local Member of Legislative Assembly and Member of Parliament. The cost of setting up a home for the sanctioned number of 250 inmates is approximately Rs. 90 lakh,” he adds.

While there is a need for more homes, there is also need to get more girls for some homes. The one in Gandhi Maanagar in Coimbatore houses only half its approved strength.

Ms. Philip says that this is because of the poor awareness that people have about the facilities the Government provides for girl children.

The Department is involved in organising awareness programmes about the various schemes available to girls.

Mr. Sampathkumar adds that the movement will ensure that the girls in the Kaapagam, who complete higher education, leave its portals with a job.

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