In an article on October 5 (‘State sitting on the fence over report?’) MiD DAY had observed that while corruption at children’s homes across the state had made giant leaps, the state government was only taking baby steps to tackle the problem. It seems now the authorities have pulled out all stops and there’s an unmistakable spring in their stride.
In response to the sensational report submitted by State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR), which has incisive details of wrongdoings unearthed during recent visits at children’s homes in Maharashtra, the state government has decided to form 100 teams to re-assess the institutions.
MiD DAY had first highlighted the issue on October 4 (‘Govt audit blows lid off children’s homes mafia’), disclosing that SCPCR has recommended closure of 389 children’s homes spread across five districts — Parbhani, Nanded, Beed, Latur and Osmanabad of Marathwada region.
The report knocks a majority of the homes where the children are kept in ‘inhuman, unhygienic and indecent conditions’.
At many such establishments ‘it was difficult to stand near the toilets and bathrooms’, the commission observed.
But 100 teams, needless to say, are a lot. And quite possibly they will spend hundreds of hours churning out a hundred reports with hundreds of pages in each. All this when the job has already been accomplished.
The SCPCR — a quasi-judicial body — prepared its report after conscientiously visiting these homes. Yet, the government will wait for the newly-formed teams to file their findings that are likely to be discussed in a high-level meeting on November 8, women and child development minister Varsha Gaikwad told this newspaper yesterday.
The squads have been asked to visit the establishments on Sunday so the voluntary organisations running them do not have any excuses for absence of kids.
The teams will inspect all the children’s home across the state, the minister said.
When asked why the government wanted to conduct such an elaborate exercise with the SCPCR report already available, Gaikwad said the government have every right to re-assess the homes.
According to department officials, the exercise is aimed at strengthening the government’s hands as the organisations may challenge orders of closure in courts.
Also, the operators can appeal the minister for a review of the recommendations made by the commission, they said.
The mandate given to the 100 teams — each headed by a senior department official, with two members from the district where they will conduct visits — is to check the food, clothing and shelter being offered to the children, their health, condition of the buildings, kitchens and surroundings, etc.
Establishments singled out in the state commission report for glaring transgressions have already been served show-cause notices to complete formalities for closure, said Rahul More, deputy commissioner, women and child development department.