'Aadhaar' to be made must for children in Maharashtra care homes

The Maharashtra Government has decided to make it mandatory for children's reform homes to enrol their inmates for Aadhaar cards in an attempt to improve the functioning of these facilities.

The enrolment is compulsory before the Government allots additional grants over and above Rs 16 crore already earmarked in this year's Budget for the welfare of these children, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis told PTI today.

"There is an urgent need to change and improve the functioning of children reform homes. We have asked people running these homes to make an Aadhaar card for every child residing with them. One thing is clear, only those who are involved in irregularities will oppose the Government stand," he said.

"There are NGOs that have adopted the biometric system and are making Aadhaar cards for their children, in keeping with the Government's directive," Fadnavis said.

Minors freed from child labour activities, or begging on streets or those who stay on footpaths are usually sent to the care homes.

Fadnavis said the Government is in the process of setting up a deadline for these reform homes. Further grants will be provided to them once they furnish the details of children residing with them.

The Chief Minister said some "unscrupulous elements" were against the Government's move. "I want to know the reasons for opposition to enrolment for Aadhaar cards. The Government wants to allocate more money for these children but unscrupulous elements have opened their own shops in the name of children care homes. We will not let them get away." 

"We are in the process of setting up deadline for them. We cannot let the children residing there go hungry but at the same time we have to ensure the money we allocate is put to right use," Fadnavis said.

An official from the Women and Child Welfare Department said there are about 1108 reform homes across 358 talukas of Maharashtra. "According to Government figures, about 92,000 children reside in reform homes, of which 39,000 have Aadhaar cards," he said.

The Government used to give an aid of Rs 950 per child, of which Rs 650 had to be spent on their food. The rest was to be spent on clothing and books, among other needs.

"In the last three months, the Government has increased the aid to Rs 1,200 per child. Despite this, we are getting requests for further increase in the aid money," he said. 

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