NEW DELHI: In the wake of two back-to-back sexual abuse cases at state-funded shelter homes in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the Union government has expedited the process of formulating a scheme for creating a large shelter facility directly under the control of each state.
The revision of the existing policy means that no money will be granted to the NGOs for running the women or children shelter homes in "difficult" situations.
Sources said the idea was floated earlier for creating a centralised shelter home with capacities to house hundreds of destitute women and kids at state headquarter by Union WCD Minister Maneka Gandhi, but the states did not evince much interest.
"While the outrage regarding rape of girls in a shelter home in Muzaffarpur, Bihar is still going on, a new case has come from Deoria, UP where 24 girls have been subjected to sexual assault," Maneka wrote in a letter to a top official in the Ministry on Monday. "I have been asking for a scheme where each state should have a single, large facility to house all such girls and children which should be run by the state government. Other homes should only provide temporary shelter to distressed women and children after clearance by child welfare committees," the letter read.
The minister raised concerns that chances of abuse of women and kids and misuse of government funds were higher if homes were run by NGOs. She stressed that adoption and skill development programmes could be carried out more efficiently from a central centre.
She suggested the centre would be constructed by the Ministry and handed over to states. The minister also urged MPs to visit shelter homes and immediately report any irregularity or illegality.
WCD secretary Rakesh Srivastava said the letter would be sent immediately to the states. "We are keen that states adopt the single shelter home policy as it is easy to monitor such facilities at state capital level," he told TNIE.
Under the Swadhar Greh and Integrated Child Protection Schemes, the Ministry grants funds to the states for providing shelter to women and children, respectively. The schemes are implemented by the states, with a cost-sharing arrangement of 60:40. The states mostly outsource work to NGOs, which are given funds to run the homes.
Activists pointed out that barring a few, most shelter homes were run in a shoddy manner and were dens of sexual abuse. "They are often overcrowded and work as a dumping ground for distressed women and kids, who are often exploited instead of being counselled and helped," said Rishikant of Childline.