Days before 57 girls of a government-run Kanpur shelter home tested positive for novel coronavirus, the district Child Welfare Committee (CWC) had flagged the issue of overcrowding several times. The latest alert was sounded on June 11.
Among the 57 Covid-positive girls, five are pregnant.
“We have regularly been raising the issue of overcrowding at the shelter home in Kanpur with the director of the Women Welfare Department and the district probation officer. The last time we raised the issue was on June 11 after an inspection,” said Rajendra Kumar, a member of Kanpur’s CWC.
Kanpur District Magistrate Brahma Deo Ram Tiwari said he too had alerted the government about the shelter home running beyond its capacity, but efforts to decongest it were stalled due to the nationwide lockdown that began in the last week of March.
Against a capacity of 100 inmates, the home had 171 girls. These girls, aged between 10 and 18, were brought to the home on the direction of the CWC.
The state has four girls’ shelter homes — in Kanpur, Auraiya, Meerut, and Agra. The Kanpur one caters to 22 districts.
“Kanpur’s shelter home has four big halls where girls sleep. Since overcrowding, arrangements to sleep girls are made in three other rooms meant for study and cultural activities,” added Kumar. One of these rooms was kept for pregnant girls and mentally challenged girls.
Admitting the problem, Director (Women Welfare) Manoj Kumar Rai said they have decided to soon shift some of the girls to a women protection home to decongest the shelter home.
Meanwhile, Kanpur District Magistrate formed a two-member probe team. The team will inspect the facilities, its management, upkeep and the issue of overcrowding.
The inquiry team comprises Sub-divisional Magistrate (SDM) of Kanpur Collectorate, Meenu Rana, and Nazirabad Circle Officer Gitanjali Singh.
Rana said they will probe all angles, including the source and spread of the virus.
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