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No funds for old age home
- Second phase of construction stalled

Nov. 11: The Ambikagiri memorial old age home at Patherquarry, which was started about a year ago, is now finding it difficult to raise funds for its second phase of construction and has been able to get only one person to stay at the home.

General secretary of the Ambikagiri Memorial Trust Society R.K. Gautam said though the first phase was successfully completed at a cost of Rs 8.5 lakh, they were now finding it difficult to raise funds for the expansion of the home in the second phase.

The second phase of construction will cost an estimated Rs 1.75 crore. A two-storeyed building will be constructed in this phase to accommodate 50 elders in 10 single rooms, 15 double-bedded rooms and two dormitories. The home became operational this year.

The objective of the trust was to perpetuate the memory of Ambikagiri Roychoudhury through social welfare activities and propagation of his ideology of national integration, his teachings and philosophy of universal brotherhood.

“We had even held a gift coupon draw to get finances for completion of the second phase and a few prizes were offered but it was not successful,” Gautam said. Some of the prizes had to be changed as the sale of gift coupons was minimal.

In the first phase of the old-age home, an Assam-type brick building, capable of accommodating 11 persons, was constructed. The home has a library-cum-reading room, recreation and hobby centre, audio-visual facilities, conference hall, an ambulance service and a counselling centre.

Gautam said there is only one person staying in the home, though many people have made queries and have even come to see it. “This is probably due to the social stigma prevalent in the region and it will take time for the people to get mentally prepared to stay in an old age home,” he added.

“The situation here is completely different from other parts of the country where old age homes are getting popular,” Gautam said.

Of the total population of 26,638,407 in Assam, nearly 18 lakh people are in the age group of 65, according to the 2001 census.

Gautam, however, hoped that the situation would change with more awareness and many more people would come to stay permanently in the home.

Gautam said each inmate was charged Rs 2,000 per month and it would require a minimum of five inmates to make the home sustainable. In the third phase, two Assam-type houses would be constructed. One would accommodate 40 elders and the other would shelter 50 women in distress with small children. In this phase, a pre-primary and primary school for under-privileged children would also be constructed in a rural set-up.

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