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Integrated Child Protection Scheme fails to take off, children falling prey to petty crimes remain neglected

By Our Representative
A recent workshop, held under the auspices of the Dalit Hak Rakshak Manch (DHRM), an Ahmedabad-based NGO working on child rights issues, has found that the Gujarat government is showing "gross indifference" towards the Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS), a Government of India scheme floated in 2009 for the vulnerable sections of children, who, finding themselves in certain special conditions, are victims of abuse, neglect, exploitation, abandonment and separation from family.
Referring to a Government of Gujarat presentation before the Union ministry of woman and child, DHRM workshop stated that the state government could not even spend the pittance, Rs 6.41 crore, sanctioned to it for the purpose. Whatever grants were demanded were for staff. As for the ICPS' actual functioning, which would require activation of different schemes, these have remained on paper. Analyzing different heads under which the state government should implement ICPS, which operates under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000, amended in 2006, the workshop found that a state support project unit had been set up to create ICPS structures all over the state. However, “while the government demanded funds for setting up the unit, it did not demand any funds to create awareness which is the necessary part of the unit's work. The result was, out of Rs 19 lakh sanctioned, Rs 12 lakh remained untilised last year”.
Further, while as many as 26 district support units have been set up, there is no inkling towards ensuring that these function in their true letter and spirit. Thus, of the 26 units, only three are functioning Vadodara, Kheda and Narmada districts. As for the rest, they are non-functional because of lack of staff. As a result, out of Rs 2.09 crore sanctioned, a whopping Rs 1.19 crore remained unutilised. “There was bi demand for grants from the Government of India for capacity building, advocacy and awareness”, the workshop said.
The situation was found to be very similar with regard to other programmes under ICPS. Thus, while a state adoption resource agency was set up, grants were demanded for staff, but nothing for creating awareness campaign. The result was, out of Rs 5.38 lakh grant, Rs 3.48 lakh remained unutilized. Then, as against Rs 45.8 lakh for specialised adoption agency, Rs 23.78 lakh, again meant for things other than staff salaries, remained untilised.
Further, juvenile boards were set up in all the 26 districts, but no meetings of the boards have so far been held in districts. Worse, in rest of the districts, not more than one meeting has been held. The result is, of the Rs 16 lakh sanctioned for proper functioning of these boards, the government could spend merely 0.78 lakh. The workshop said that as many as 3,930 cases are pending with these district boards. “How it is going to dispose of the rest is a big question”, the workshop wondered. Then, out of Rs 22 lakh sanctioned for child welfare committees, just about Rs 3.96 lakh were utilised, as the committees did not function, with 323 cases remaining pending.
Coming to the juvenile homes, the workshop found that most of them remain non-functional. “The government has converted each of these homes into children homes. However, it is not clear where to keep children from the observation homes. This is because the government just forgot to demand from the Government of India grants for starting new observation homes”, the workshop said, underscoring, “Our study found that Kutch-Saurashtra's seven out of eight district observation homes were converted into children homes. The result is, children from all the districts are brought to Rajkot, where alone an observation home functions.”
“This has resulted in a strange predicament”, the workshop said. “A teenager who was caught for thieving a motorbike in Gandhidham in Kutch district is kept in Rajkot, which is hundreds of kilometres away, to remain in the observation home. However, at the time of hearing, the boy is transported all the way to Gandhidham, and again brought back to Rajkot and kept in confinement there. Ordinarily he should have got bail in the matter at Gandhidham itself. But this is not done”, the workshop said.
Participating in the workshop, senior sociologist Gaurang Jahi said, “It has generally been found that the teenagers who are involved in different types of crimes come from vulnerable sections of population – Dalits, tribals, OBCs and backward sections of Muslims. There is a need to find out why this is so. Many of these vulnerable sections, mainly tribals, come to Ahmedabad with their parents to work in construction and other hazardous jobs. Then there are young girls who are pushed into prostitution. There is no policy to take care of their health, educational, security and psychological needs.”

Comments

Anuja Kastia Shah said…
Not setting proper implementation system for ICPS and not taking up adequate measures in direction of ensuring child protection for children talks about the political will of Government of Gujarat. The utilization figures are extremely low which truly reflects how little work has been carried out in the last couple of years.

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