The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) India has directed the state government to set up a committee to oversee that all private nature camp holders, trek organisers and NGOs register under it before conducting camps in forested areas.
This decision came after an environmental activist brought to the fore the unkempt conditions and gruelling sessions children were subjected to at such camps operating from the city and Mumbai.
The NCPCR might implement guidelines and urge unauthorised and private nature camp holders to refrain from conducting any activity which might be hazardous to children.
MiD DAY published an article based on a detailed report prepared by social activist and trekker, Jitendra Gupta. The activist had alleged that camps are being conducted in remote areas like Rajghad, Torna and even forested land during summer vacations and has become a commercial activity. Each week, about 10 to 15 camps are conducted by various organisations.
Gupta hinted that such areas generally lack medical or transport facilities, which could prove fatal to hapless participants in case of an accident or snakebite.
High fees, few facilities
He reported that even though the organisers charge between Rs 3,000 to 4,000 per trip, such camps lacked basic sanitation facilities and children are forced to use trench toilets, drink unfiltered tap water and are forced to sleep in tents without mosquito nets.
“It has also been noticed that the camps subject minors to rock climbing, rappelling, night trekking and other military-type training, which could prove dangerous,” Gupta said. The social activist even presented the report to the commission, Ministry of Child Welfare and Sports Ministry.
“We have asked the commission to set up new guidelines on how and where such nature camps can be conducted. The government should hold private organisations or NGOs responsible in case of emergency,” Vincent Augustine, another naturalist said.
Private camp organisers refuted the activist’s claims and said they would not mind following guidelines and getting registered with the state committee.
“We have medical and transport facilities in place. We carry out camps as we know how to take care of the children,” said a camp organiser.