Tuesday, March 31, 2015

CAG report indicts Gujarat government's save the girl child campaign during Modi's stewardship

By Our Representative
In a scathing critique of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's much-hyped save the girl child campaign during the period of Gujarat's chief ministership, India's Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has found that the Gujarat government had totally failed to implement the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, meant to stop female foeticides.
The CAG, in its performance audit, “Protection and Welfare of Girl Child”, has said, "Out of total 181 cases filed under PC&PNDT Act, only 49 cases had been finalised as of March 2014 and out of 49 cases finalised, only in six cases, the delinquents were convicted." It adds, "The pendency period of these cases ranged from one to 12 years."
The PC&PNDT Act empowers the Appropriate Authority (AA) to conduct search and seizure of records of any Genetic Clinic, Ultrasound Clinic, Imaging Centre or any other place providing facility of sonography. Not only was there extremely poor conviction rate, CAG says, even the "required number of sting/decoy operations were not conducted and records of unsuccessful sting/decoy operations were not maintained.
CAG notes an "increasing trend of girl child victims of rape case was noticed". Thus, "the percentage of girl child victims of rape cases against total cases registered in the State increased from 21.25 (2009) to 36.15 (2013)." Then, there were "instances of non-payment of financial assistance to victims of rape and also delay in payment of assistance."
One of the major requirements of any save the girl child campaign should to overcome the evil of child marriages. Yet, says CAG, "Out of 659 complaints of child marriages received during 2009-14, court cases were filed in only 15 cases (two per cent) and not a single person was convicted in the State."
It says, "In cases of pre-marriage complaints received, though sufficient evidences like marriage cards, birth certificates, etc, had been collected by District Child Marriage Prohibition Officers, sufficient follow-up action as required under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006 had not been taken." The CAG report was submitted in the Gujarat state assembly on Tuesday.
All this happened at a time when, CAG says, Gujarat State Child Protection Society (GSCPS) has "not formulated the State Child Protection Policy and State Plan of Action", nor has the "District Child Protection Plans have been prepared." The result failure to protect the girld child is that, it adds, the "sex ratio at birth in 15 out of 26 districts in the State declined in 2013 as compared to 2012 as per data of Civil Registration System."
Referring to the plight of homeless children in Gujarat, CAG says, Open Shelters in urban and semi-urban areas are supposed to cater to all children in need of care and protection, particularly beggars, street and working children, rag pickers, small vendors, run-away children, etc.
"Ten centres which were in existence were discontinued as their approval was cancelled in June 2011 due to non-availability of infrastructure and thereafter there were no centres. Thus, children in need of care and protection in the State continued to live a vulnerable life and were deprived of the facility of safe environment in Open Shelters", CAG says.
"Though Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 envisaged for registration of Children’s Homes, in the State, Children’s Homes were found running without registration", says CAG, adding, "Some Children’s Homes were under utilised while in some children’s homes facilities were inadequate i.e. dirty toilets, no compound walls, no playgrounds, no proper drainage facility, prescribed pairs of clothes were not provided to children, children with special needs were accommodated with other children instead of accommodating in separate homes."
As for girls, they were "found escaped from Children’s Homes", and "girls escaped from Rajkot are yet to be traced". In fact, CAG says, "The JJ Act, 2000 and Gujarat JJ Rules, 2011 require separate Children’s Homes for the age group of 7-11 and 12-18 years. All girls were accommodated in a single home instead of being accommodated in separate homes based on age groups. Even girls were accommodated in single dormitory though additional dormitory was available."

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