To make the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) premises child-friendly, the state government shall make provisions for separate interaction rooms, toilets, and water facilities, waiting rooms and seating areas for children, first-aid kit, toys and age-appropriate activity books, as per the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015.
Instead, the Child Welfare Committee that aims primarily to understand the problems of the children, have their own grievances.
Both CWC committees of five members each have been allocated two small rooms at the Pune Municipal Corporation-run Dalvi hospital.
An NGO has donated tables and chairs and currently, there are no computers. There is a need for repairs at the common toilet where the door does not shut properly.
The CWC members took charge just three months ago and divided the geographical areas in Pune. So, both committees of five members each try to visit and inspect child care homes that are as far as 100 km away at different tehsils across the district. This is despite the lack of any police protection.
The CWC constituted under Section 27 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, has the same powers as a Metropolitan/Judicial Magistrate of the first class. The CWC has the authority to dispose of cases for care, protection, treatment, development and rehabilitation of children in need of care and protection, as well as to provide for their basic needs and protection.
But the committee is still struggling to avail of the basic facilities. Recently, a mob of around 30 people had gathered at the “office” to “convince” the officials to hand over five children — who had allegedly escaped from a madrasa in Solapur — to their parents. With no police protection, it was a challenge for the CWC to negotiate with the crowd, sources said.
It is only after the CWC assessment that a child is sent to a child care home. In Pune district, there are 63 child care homes. Seventeen are for boys and 24 are for girls. There are another 22 homes for both boys and girls. Of these, five are run by the state government.
According to the Pune District Women and Child Development Office, attendance records on July 31 show that there are a total of 2,534 children in these homes.
The district WCD officials admitted that there was space crunch but work was not getting hampered. “We have already written to the municipal corporation authorities to initiate repairs and relocate the committees to different rooms. Letters have also been sent to the Integrated Child Protection Scheme officials seeking basic facilities like computers and internet services for the CWC committee,” officials said.