HYDERABAD: Remember the NGO that IT Minister KT Rama Rao, in his personal capacity, had helped out financially and salvaged it from shutting down?
Turns out, the NGO -- Helping Hands Humanity which had been in operation for the last six years had no valid licences from Child Welfare Committee and Women Development and Child Welfare Department. Had they had licenses the children would not have faced the threat of being ‘homeless’ as the tweet had described.
As per the rules of Juvenile Justice Act, every single NGO giving shelter to children is to be registered with the department. Once they apply for registration, the CWC members visit the home and personally interact with every child and inspect the various facilities in the home and give them due deadline for improvement. If they manage to make those additional provisions, which were missing, they are awarded ‘Fit to operate’ licence, else the children are sent to government homes or relocated to other NGOs. In this case, the home run by Helping Hands Humanity was neither under the department’s watch, nor were they aware such a procedure was important. “We had no idea about these procedures, had we known we would have certainly applied,” said Satish Chandra, owner of the NGO who got over `14 lakh as donations from the people after the tweet. In fact, had the CWC known about the fate of the NGO being financially incapable to manage the children, they would have been shifted to suitable homes before. Allegedly, the children, specially the 18 boys of the home were put up in a single room, which is in gross violation of the rules. The financial instability also was a cause of worry.
The issue of the home also highlights how hundreds of such homes continue to operate in the city and continue to receive funds from citizens without any enquiries on what facilities are actually being provided. Citizens barely ever insist on knowing if the institutions have ‘fit to operate’ certificates from the government. KTR himself rushed to help the home in an act of kindness, despite the home violating various norms of JJ Act, note experts.
“The issue is that department puts no effort in advising citizens how to chose an NGO for their charity donations. Many a times people are not even aware that there is an NGO operating in their locality. There will not even be a single board outside such homes. It must be made mandatory to have these things, else abuse happening behind closed doors can go unchecked, “ added Achutya Rao, a child rights activist.