The state’s women and child development department will launch a campaign against bogus children’s homes starting this Sunday. As part of the initiative, 75 flying squads will be set up to probe into such institutions.
Varsha Gaikwad, minister for women and child development said on Wednesday that the flying squads, comprising three officials each, would start the campaign in Marathwada, a region that has been under the scanner for having the largest number of bogus children homes.
"The squads will inspect homes, check for official documents and the condition of children who live there. Based on this, they will issue show cause notices to faulty institutes,” said Gaikwad. “If their replies to notices are unsatisfactory, we will cancel their registration.”
The action comes on the heels of a report by the state child rights commission that recommended immediate closure of 389 homes in Marathwada. The commission also called for punitive action against officials who had granted approvals to such homes. The report had found that many of these homes were actually set up to usurp government grants that amount to Rs635 per child. While these homes kept children in filthy, unhygenic conditions, others were run as coaching-centres.
Last month, in a state cabinet meeting, then state finance minister Ajit Pawar had asked women and child development department to take action against 500 such homes, after turning down the department’s request to increase government allowance per child from Rs635 to Rs900. Finance officials pointed out that in 2008, 500 such homes had been approved by the state in Marathwada alone, of which many were in Latur, without the finance department's approval.
“The homes are being run by politically-connected persons and any action by the women and child development department seems to be an eye wash,” said a senior bureaucrat.