The Maharashtra government has come under fire in a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report, 2014, over its ineffectiveness in implementing schemes for the girl child. The related this failure to the state’s low child sex ratio (CSR), the growing crime rate, child trafficking and the issue of malnourished girls.
According to the 2011 census, there were 1.91 crore girls (47% of the total number of children in the state) between the age of 0 to 19, who qualify for these schemes.
“The possibility of a decline in the CSR due to female infanticide and neglect of child’s health, nutrition and safety cannot be ruled out,” the CAG report said, while stating how Beed district, which always sees a high number of female foeticide cases, has the lowest CSR — 807 girls per 1,000 boys. The CSR in the state declined from 913 girls per 1,000 boys in 2001 to 894 per 1,000.
The report found The Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques of Sex Selection Act, 1994 (PCPNDT), which regulates sex determination through sonography and has an impact on the CSR, has not been followed.
Only 40% of the sonography centres in the state have been filling in the mandatory sonography disclosure form, while Nandurbar has never had the mandatory sonography centre inspections, the audit shows. Also, instead of 30 PCPNDT meetings to be held between 2009 and 2014, only 9 were held.
Similar gaps were seen in the implementation of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POSCO). Even though the rape cases registered for girls below the age of 18 went up from 924 from 2012, to 1,546 in 2013, the government was found to be slacking on finalising the mandatory guidelines that should be followed to assist the child during the pre- and post-trial stage.
In case of plugging the increase in cases in child marriage and sensitising people, the CAG found the government to be lax and under-reporting cases. The Act that came into force in September 2008 aimed to appoint prohibition officers, but the audit showed none were appointed for six years, and there was no mechanism to see that the Act is complied with.
It also slammed the woman and child department for poor repatriation of girls rescued under the child trafficking act. Of the 599 girls rescued between 2010-13, 537 were sent to homes, and later repatriated. There is, however, no monitoring or follow-up mechanism to check if they were reunited with their families. Also, the police admitted a lack of funds to conduct raids and rescue operations were the major constraints in the implementation of the Act.
The CAG recommended the government formulate a state child protection plan that will set clear goals and targets and will articulate the responsibility and accountability of all departments engaged in the welfare and protection of children.