The Social Justice Ministry has sought a larger budget allocation for sanctioning grants pending to NGOs running welfare schemes, D. Napoleon, Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, said.

It was the shortage of resources that had stalled the disbursal of grants to the NGOs, he said, explaining that a further sum of Rs.20 crore had been requisitioned to clear pending demands. Those NGOs who had not yet received their allotment must communicate the same to his office. The current budget of the Ministry of Rs.2,555 crore was insufficient to meet the requirements of all the sectors. The Ministry had asked for Rs.7,000 crore in the next budget.

Mr. Napoleon was speaking after inaugurating a one-day sensitisation workshop on the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, Rules and the Welfare of Disabled.

He said according to the 2001 Census, there were 7.70 crore persons over 60 years of age. The number was expected to burgeon to 16 crore over the next few years. In Tamil Nadu, there were 49 old age homes, 17 day care centres and six mobile medical units supported by the Centre.

Earlier, Social Welfare Minister Geetha Jeevan, also advanced the cause of the NGOs whose grants had not been sanctioned yet. A sum of Rs.112 crore was sanctioned by the Centre for setting up the Geriatric Research Centre in Chennai and work on it had begun. The government was focussing on setting up geriatric wards in all government hospitals.

Poornima Singh, Joint Secretary, Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry, said the disabled and senior citizens were a vulnerable population. It would be a challenge for the nation if the number of senior citizens grew at the projected rate and it was to handle these issues that the Ministry had launched the integrated programme for older persons.

The main objective of the scheme was to improve the quality of life of the older persons by providing basic amenities such as shelter, food, medical care and entertainment opportunities and encouraging productive and active ageing through providing support for capacity building of institutions and the community, she explained.

P. Rama Mohan Rao, Principal Secretary, Social Welfare and Nutritious Meal Programme, said the seminar was being organised jointly by the Social Welfare Department along with HelpAge India to sensitise district social welfare officers, who had also been appointed maintenance officers under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007. C. Vijayaraj Kumar, State Commissioner for the Disabled, said true inclusion would be to involve beneficiaries as stakeholders in process.