The plan to use biometric machines to ensure accuracy in headcount of inmates in children’s homes run by the Women and Child Development Department (WCD) has floundered right from the start when it was proposed four years ago. Most of the machines installed in children’s homes developed technical glitches. They were either non-functional or malfunctioning. Of the 969 children’s homes selected, the machines have not been installed in 100. The government is set to take a fresh look into the matter soon. Children’s homes run by NGOs could also be asked to install biometric machines.
In view of huge discrepancies in number of children shown by some of these children’s homes-during inspection-children were allegedly brought from outside to inflate the numbers ostensibly to bag more government funds-the government had issued an order asking 969 of the 1105 children’s homes to install biometric machines. The machines have been installed in 869 homes but in most cases they are not functioning properly. There are over 70,000 children in the 1105 child care centres in the state. These include adoption agencies, observation homes and shelter homes.
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“The main purpose of these machines was to ensure there is no discrepancy in total number of children at each of these centres. However, with machines not functioning properly, the entire objective of the plan has fallen flat,” said a senior official of the WCD Department.
The GR to install the machines was issued after it was observed that some agencies, to show mandatory numbers to avail themselves of financial aid, would get children from outside during inspections. This was done with a view to garner funding or aid from the state government. The GR was issued after irregularities were noticed. But the whole exercise proved futile, with most of the machines not functioning properly.
WCD officials have convened a meeting on May 13 to discuss the matter and issue fresh directives. The state government is all set to have biometric records of children in all NGO-run orphanages, too. “The objective is to ensure that grants disbursed by the government reaches actual beneficiaries,” said the official.
Minister of State for women Vidya Thakur had noted that the state did not have any records of the number of children in NGO-run orphanages and also government-run ones and despite monthly grants, the condition of these homes left much to be desired.
The state had issued another GR in November 2014 regarding Aadhaar cards for children of these homes. The drive was to be completed by last year but it was not done. Of the 1473 children in observation homes, 1010 have Aadhaar cards. Of the 70,000-odd children in other children’s homes, nearly 41,164 children have their Aadhaar cards.
Recently, the government decided to make it mandatory for children of these homes to enrol for Aadhaar in an attempt to improve functioning of the facilities run by children’s homes.