TIRUCHI: About 900 mentally challenged persons in the district are given monthly financial assistance of Rs.500 each and the administration has sought additional funds from the government to extend the benefit to 1,200 more applicants, Collector T. Soundiah said here on Wednesday.
Participating in an awareness programme on prevention and early identification of mental retardation among children, organised by the Department of Disabled Rehabilitation, he said the government had allotted Rs.33.09 lakh for the assistance programme for persons with more than 60 per cent mental disability. Additional funds were expected during the financial year.
In rural areas, steps were being taken to extend credit — with 50 per cent subsidy — to families with mentally challenged children.
A special training centre for identifying mental retardation among children was already functioning at Vidivelli Rehabilitation School of the Mentally Challenged in the city.
Tiruchi district was one of the seven districts selected for setting up homes for mentally challenged children below the age of 14. The home, with an intake of 50, had been started at Tiruchi Multi Purpose Social Service Society. The inmates would be provided vocational training. The government had made an initial allotment of Rs.70.35 lakh for the home.
Mr. Soundiah said national disability identity cards had been issued to 20,012 persons in the district so far. This included 4,547 mentally challenged and 10,733 physically handicapped persons. Among the disabled persons identified in the district, 1,913 were below the age of 18. There was need for early identification of mental retardation among children so that appropriate remedial treatment could be provided, he stressed.
District Rehabilitation Officer R. Shyamala, Sethulingam of Siddhar Service Society and others spoke.
Earlier, Mr. Soundiah distributed tape-recorders, Braille watches and other aids to 17 handicapped students of standard X, XI and XII.