The fate of SOS Balgram, an orphanage at Yerawada that was issued a closure notice last year by the Women and Child Welfare Department for alleged mismanagement is likely to be taken up for discussion in the coming week by the state authorities.
With the High Court leaving the decision to the department regarding the institution, housed on a nine-acre plot in Yerawada, a meeting has been called under the Minister for Women and Child Welfare Department Varsha Gaikwad and and all stakeholders next week.
“We had issued a closure notice to the orphanage as three-four cases of sexual abuse were reported to us. Overall mismanagement was also reported. However, the officials of the organisation are keen to be given a chance for improvement and have assured us that they would function according to norms spelt out to them,” said Gaikwad.
With many officials from Balgram visiting the minister, she said that although they had shifted the children to other institutions recognised by the department, a final decision was yet to be taken. “While there is speculation over transferring the prime plot back to the revenue department, we want to state that no decision has been taken yet. We will involve all stakeholders before taking a final decision,” Gaikwad told The Indian Express on Thursday.
Balgram executive director Balgram Ashok Ghatge said they are hoping that their license will be renewed. “We have met the minister and assured that stringent action has been taken against errant officials. We have also stated that we will make all arrangements to house the boys and girls separately. We are hoping that a favourable decision is taken as it involves nearly 200 children,” said Ghatge.
The institution had been functioning for the last 35 years. Since April last year, NGO Save our Soul (SOS), withdrew its funding after the closure notice was issued. “We have nearly 50 staffers who have been working for more than 20 years. We hope the government issues us the licence so that we get aid for children below 18 years which is around Rs 950 and SOS renews the funding for the organisation, adds Ghatge.
The closure was issued when the state authorities took cognizance of alleged molestation and death of a six-year-old allegedly due to delayed medical attention.