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21 Feb 2017

Cash crunch for shelter home.... Ashray, destitute women's home in funds crunch after arrest of NBPDC head

The entrance to the orphanage. (Biplab Basak)
TT, Jalpaiguri, Feb. 20: Ashray, the home for the destitute women at Debnagar in Jalpaiguri, is facing funds crunch, especially after the arrest of Chandana Chakraborty who heads the North Bengal People's Development Centre that runs the shelter.
Following her arrest, the employees who run the destitute women's home have no idea how to run the shelter and provide at least two square meals to the boarders.
Today, both the employees and the inmates aired anguish against Chandana and narrated the pathetic conditions in which they are living. Such miserable situation made some residents of Debnagar come forward and help them with food grains, grocery items and vegetables.
The local people said a Radha Krishna temple had been built at Debnagar in 2010 with the help of Chandana. In 2012, Chandana developed an old age home in association with another woman next to the temple. However, after some years, the other woman left Jalpaiguri following her husband's transfer. Soon, Chandana changed the accommodation to a destitute women's home.
"I have been working here since 2012 and get a monthly salary of Rs 6,700. But since July last year, I haven't been getting my salary. Other employees are not being paid their salaries either," Dipti Ghosh, the superintendent of "Ashray", said today.
There are four employees and 21 boarders at the home now and two of them are pregnant. "One of them is in advanced state of pregnancy," am employee said.
But the principal problem is lack of funds.
"We do not have stock of food grains, grocery items and vegetables. Cooking gas can finish any time. On the other hand, the chairperson is behind the bars now. We don't know how we will run the home and provide food to the boarders," the superintendent said.
According to her, the home spends around Rs 1,700 for an inmate a month.
"Even though we are not getting salaries, we are still doing our work. But if funds provided to run the home do not come, it would be tough for us," Mousumi Majumdar, a counsellor posted at the home, said. "We do not have even Rs 400 that is required to hire an ambulance at any time, we might have to shift one of the pregnant women to hospital for delivery."
Some of the boarders also expressed anguish over the services provided at the home.
For several months, they said, they have not been served with non-veg items. "We are just provided with rice, lentil and occasionally, some vegetables. We have also come to know about the arrest and all of us are worried. We have no place to go and don't know what would happen," an inmate said.
A senior administrative official in Jalpaiguri, when told about the state of affairs at Ashray, said: "The CID is investigating the case. We are also keeping a strict vigil on the home as there are 21 women there. If the need arises, the administration will surely extend necessary assistance."

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