NGOs having their offices in Karuna Sadan have recently been directed to pay rent for their office accommodation at NINE times the existing rate.
Chandigarh Administration had allotted some rooms in the building known as Karuna Sadan in Sector – 11 B to voluntary agencies during 1994. Subsequently, the management of the building was transferred to the Red Cross Society which has been allotting the rooms to various NGOs. Presently about 20 NGOs have their offices in the building.
These voluntary agencies are undertaking various programmes for welfare of the underprivileged and poor sections of the Society as seen from the following:
- Chandigarh Senior Citizens’ Association has been actively working for the welfare of senior citizens.
- National Association for Blind is working for the welfare of the blind including imparting computer education and provision of library services for the visually challenged.
- Indian National Portage Association has been engaged in providing free services to children with special needs such as those with learning disability, slow learners and those with behavioural problems.
- Yuvsatta has been working for education and empowerment of adolescent girls from poor families in rural and slum areas and has recently launched Girl Star project for all round development of the girl child.
- Youth Technical Training Society (YTTS) has been doing open shelter programme for street children without local families; running crèches for children of poor working women in slum areas; a Child helpline and implementing projects for awareness against HIV/AIDS among female sex workers and homosexual males.
- Alcoholics Anonymous is helping alcoholics to give up their addiction.
- Survival of Young and Adolescent (SURYA) Foundation has been working for skill development of poor women and running crèches for children of poor working women.
- Centre for Education and Voluntary Action (CEVA) has been sensitizing people on cultural and social issues through street plays and working for improvement in curriculum in schools.
- Consumers Association has been creating awareness about Rights of Consumers, helping the consumers to file cases with the consumer court and trying to resolve disputes through mediation.
- Environment Society of India has been trying to protect environment by creating awareness on environment issues and promoting conservation measures.
- Society for Service to Voluntary Agencies has been implementing projects for Reproductive and Child Health; empowerment of poor women through skill development programmes; child nutrition; drug de-addiction; adult literacy and supplementary coaching for weak students from poor families.
It will be seen that the services provided by the above NGOs are those which any welfare state is duty bound to provide, especially for weaker sections of society. None of these NGOs is working on a commercial basis or with any profit motive. On the contrary, various functionaries of these societies provide their services on an honorary basis.
The Red Cross Society has now informed these voluntary societies that their rents would be revised w.e.f. 1.1.2014. The rents have been increased by more than 8 times in all cases. An organization which was paying rent of Rs. 1,000/- per month would now be required to pay more than Rs. 9,000/- per month.
None of these organizations will be able to pay commercial rent for the accommodation allotted to them, as demanded by Red Cross Society and, if Chandigarh Administration insists on charging commercial rent most of these will perforce close down and the voluntary movement in the city will receive a huge setback, depriving poor and underprivileged sections from the services of these organizations. The organizations have made a representation to the Advisor to Administrator but, even after four months, no sympathetic response has been received.