Ten-year-old Sanjay struts around, joking with friends, while chewing a gum. Living in a night shelter in the Jama Masjid area, he reads little pieces of text from torn newspapers lying around.
Sanjay’s life took a turn for the worst when his father died in a road accident in Atarra district of Uttar Pradesh and he was brought to Delhi for work.
Like Sanjay, hundreds of children miss out on growing up in a family and hundreds of parents lose the chance to raise a child each year. A scheme that was floated by the Delhi government under the Juvenile Justice Act to fill this gap has failed to take off. The Act was notified in 2009 and was passed by the L-G.
The Delhi government’s plan, Vatsalya, to give foster care to needful children has been travelling from one office to another for more than three years now, without progress. Reason: Officials at the planning and finance department of the Delhi government think the scheme is “unworkable”. This was revealed in an RTI filed by an NGO.
File notings reveal that the department had raised the objection repeatedly on the basis that the scheme might result in the “misuse and exploitation of children” and that it would be “too embarrassing for the department to face cases of missing child/sale of child/child trafficking”.
The file has been doing rounds since the beginning of 2008. “When the provision was added in the Act, there were discussions about its feasibility and all these queries had been answered. Child welfare committees are supposed to make a detailed profile of foster families before children are sent there and regular checks must be made to rule out abuse,” said Rajiv Kale, director, department of women and child welfare, who is keen on trying out the scheme.
“It is a pilot project that we have asked for, but the file is stuck. You can’t dump an idea without trying it out,” he added.
Calls made to DM Spolia, principal secretary (finance) in the Delhi government, remained unanswered.
Officials of child welfare committees (CWCs) have also supported the scheme.