Chandigarh’s child rights body without chairman for over a month
Amid the epidemic, the city’s only child rights body, the Chandigarh Commission for Protection of Child Rights (CCPCR), has had no one to head the organisation for more than a month. The previous chairperson retired on March 17, after which no one has been appointed by UT’s department of social welfare to fill the position.
Meanwhile, Yashpal Garg, who is also the secretary of Chandigarh‘s social welfare department, said he was the acting chairperson of the commission.
However, a former member of the commission, Pramod Sharma, stressing that the commission needed co-ordination at all levels to prevent the health crisis from becoming a child rights crisis, has written to UT administrator VP Singh Badnore on the matter.
Requesting him to appoint someone to head the CCPCR office, Pramod wrote, “The appointment of a chairperson to make CCPCR ‘fully operational’ is long overdue.”
Pramod said with all requisite resources and manpower, a closed office of CCPCR served no purpose when it could have been fully utilised in the times of the epidemic.
“With schools, offices, commercial establishments closed, family distress level is all-time high. And joblessness will force poor families to cut back on essential health and food expenditures, particularly affecting the well-being of children,” he said.
He also said very soon, children will drop out from Chandigarh’s schools, an action spurred by the present crisis and reverse migration. “Noting that children are both victims and witnesses of domestic violence and abuse, with schools closed, an important early warning mechanism is missing,” he added.
He also said whenever schools re-open, thousands of children cannot simply come back. “A post-pandemic school plan is essential and has to be prepared in advance in consultation with all stakeholders,” Sharma said.
Harjinder Kaur, former chairperson of CCPCR, said the child rights body had the same roles and responsibilities as the UT administration. “Amid the pandemic when every other office in the city is overburdened with work, CCPCR could have taken a lead in child rights in the city, especially when we just lost a girl child to coronavirus. I wish CCPCR was working with the same spirit,” she said.
Yashpal Garg refused to comment on the contents of the letter, but said the CCPCR was operational with him as acting chairperson and Navjot Kaur, the director of social welfare, as the secretary. He said, “It is the selection committee that takes a call on the appointment of the chairperson with the approval of the administrator.”