75K ineligible kids, fake entries at child care homes: PAC report slams Maharashtra
The public accounts committee’s (PAC) 52nd report, tabled in the state legislature on Wednesday, has stated 75,000 ineligible children were housed in state-controlled child care homes, with numerous fake entries .
The report also slammed the state government for the losses caused to the exchequer owing to “fake students” at the centres.
The PAC has been holding hearings and scrutinising the strictures passed by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in its social sector report in 2014-15. During the hearings and cross-examination of officials over the past few months, the PAC, headed by Congress legislator Gopaldas Agarwal, found innocent students were lodged in the child care centres, along with children in conflict with law. The report also stated
some of the children were housed at the centres despite having parents.
Child care home are institutions established under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act and are controlled by the state women and child welfare department. Some of the homes are run by NGOs with state aide.
While orphan children are brought to the child care homes for protection by NGOs or the task force working under state agencies, children in conflict with law are kept in observation homes.
Between 2010 and 2015, there were 95,000 children in 1,153 child care centres across the state, but the inspection of these homes found that only 17,000 children were eligible to be lodged there, the report stated. “The number of students having legal parents, but living in these homes is huge. The ineligible children were sent back to their parents and only 21,000 children were left in the homes. The Child Welfare Committees (CWC) prevailing in the child care institutions have failed to ensure the admission of eligible children and safeguarding them,” the report has stated.
The PAC also found that some children were registered only on paper to bag the benefits of the state grant, thus burdening the state exchequer.
The committee is, however, not ready to accept that these irregularities were done inadvertently, and said there is “all possibility of a conspiracy”.
The PAC has also struck down the opinion of the women and child welfare department’s contention that finding the children in need of care and protection was not their responsibility and no act has such a provision. “As we have adopted the structure of the welfare state as per the directive principles of the state policy, the state government is duty-bound to ensure the care and protection of the children in need. The government should chalk out a pathbreaking plan to find out such children and report us back in three months,” the department’s reply to the PAC read.