West Bengal and Delhi are the only two states which have not shown interest in the central government’s One Stop Centre (OSC) scheme for survivors of sexual crimes, according to official data.
This is despite Delhi ranking fifth in terms of total number of sexual offences in the country and West Bengal ranking seventh, as per National Crime Records Bureau data for 2015. The scheme is intended for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, trafficking, acid attacks and honour crimes and aims to provide them medical, legal and psychological support under one roof.
The reluctance on the part of the two state governments comes while the Centre has persisted with all the other states and union territories to set up rape crisis cells or One Stop Centres. As a result of this push their numbers have gone up from a mere 16 last year to 151 until July 2017, as per official records of the women and child development ministry. “We have sent repeated reminders to all states but these (West Bengal and Delhi) are the only two states which have not sent a proposal to us,” said a ministry official on condition of anonymity.
When contacted, a source in the West Bengal government led by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that the decision to not execute this programme in the state is a political one. “This is not how we intend to proceed. We have also not planned anything under the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ scheme of the Centre. In order to implement these schemes we have to spend our own money apart from the funds from Centre. We don’t have that kind of money. But we are already implementing our own programme, Kanyashree scheme, for the girl child. The decision to not implement the One Stop Centre scheme is not an administrative decision but a political one,” said an official on condition of anonymity.
The WB government Kanyashree scheme is a conditional cash transfer scheme which aims at retaining girls in schools and delaying their marriage until the age of 18. Delhi government, on its part, has set up 11 OSCs at various hospitals under its own scheme and plans to have 11 more in place but blamed the bureaucracy for delay in implementation. “The chief minister had asked officials concerned to hand over the work of One Stop Centres to the Delhi Commission for Women a year ago but it is very unfortunate that the bureaucracy is still sitting on the file,” it said.
Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi had also met Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal last year to push for implementation of the programme. The Centre had announced the scheme in April, 2015 under the Nirbhaya Fund which envisaged setting up of 36 centres across the country. The following year another 150 were proposed to be set up.
While initially the implementation of the scheme was slow, the Centre tweaked norms to help state governments. The biggest hurdle was acquiring land for the purpose of starting an OSC. The Centre then stipulated that these could be temporarily set up at an existing medical facility or a government institution in a district. As a result, of the 186 centres the central government aimed to operationalise by July 2017, 151 are now ready. 96 of these facilities are in an existing building.
The Nirbhaya Fund was set up with a corpus of Rs 1,000 crore in 2013 for enhancing safety and security of women in the country in the aftermath of the December, 2012 gangrape in the capital. The fund is non-lapseable and the total amount transferred to the fund till 2017-2018 is at Rs 3,100 crore.