Nearly 60 representatives of NGOs running children’s homes in the state are on an indefinite hunger strike from Tuesday to protest non-payment of dues amounting to Rs 125 crore and lack of provision of honorarium for the workers.
The Bal Vikas Sanstha Chalak Karmachari Sangathna (BVSCKS), an organisation of such NGOs, has been protesting from May 5 in front of the Women and Child Development Commissionerate in the city. “There are 960 homes catering to 80, 000 students and 9000 workers.
These students are supposed to be given Rs 21 per day. The government always pays a lesser amount and they never pay on time. This has led to a backlog of around Rs 125 crore. This year, they have sanctioned Rs 3.5 crore which is nothing,” said Ravindra Kumar Jadhav, working president of BVSCKS.
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“These homes are governed under the Juvenile Justice Act which says honorarium should be given to servants along with better provisions for every student. Maharashtra government had declared through a resolution on December 2011 that Rs 900 per month per student will be given to NGOs. This hasn’t been implemented yet. JJ Act also says building rent should be given,” said Shivaji Joshi, president, BVSCKS.
“All of our children are destitute. Almost 60 per cent are referred to us by the Child Welfare Committee. If the government actually wants welfare of these students, they should pay us. Otherwise, it is impossible to sustain these homes,” added Joshi.
The protesters are also frustrated with the callous attitude of the women and child development ministry. “We tried meeting Pankaja Munde many times; we even sent her letters. But she is absolutely inaccessible and insensitive to the plight of these homes and the children,” said Jadhav.
Rahul More, deputy commissioner, child development, said, “The protesters are claiming what we proposed to the government. The government sanctioned an amount, but it was not the full amount and hence, the protest. We have forwarded the demand and are trying to help these people, but the funds need to be sanctioned by the ministry.”