Four days after two persons were sentenced to death in Nithari case, the Planning Commission approved a scheme to prevent a repeat of such incidents, but non-government organisations say the money allocated for it in the interim budget is “grossly inadequate”.
Acting Finance Minister Pranab Mukerjee on Monday proposed Rs 54 crore for the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICPS) under which child protection units would be set up in each district.
The same evening, the plan panel approved the scheme, paving the way for the Cabinet’s nod before the Lok Sabha elections are called. In its national common minimum programme, the UPA had promised a scheme to protect the rights of children.
“We expect (Cabinet) approval soon as all hurdles have been cleared,” said a senior women and child development official, who didn’t wish to be identified.
The scheme was conceptualised after the Nithari incident came into light in December 2006. In the 2007-08 Budget, the government allocated Rs 85 crore for implementing the scheme. As the scheme was not approved, the funds remained unspent. The next fiscal saw a repeat even as the allocation was increased to Rs 180 crore.
“Now when the scheme is all set to get through, the government has allocated only Rs 54 crore,” said Bharati Ali of HAQ Centre for Child Rights, an NGO working for children’s right.
“No less than Rs 200 crore is required for paying money to the members of the child welfare committees and juvenile justice boards in each district,” she said.
The Juvenile Justice Act mandates that each district have a child welfare committee for children in need of protection, and juvenile justice boards to hear cases in which the accused are children.
Raj Mangal Prasad of NGO Pratidhi said he expected a substanial increase in funds in the complete budget.
“Allocation for welfare of juvenile criminals, setting up of homes for street children… in each district would be made under ICPS,” an official said.