NEW DELHI: The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has recently informed the Parliament about the government’s plans to consider a scheme to rehabilitate beggars and provide skill development training to them.
Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Vijay Sampla, in a written reply to Rajya Sabha, said that meetings were held with representatives of Central and state governments, NGOs, institutes and experts to discuss issues on beggary. “In these meetings, it was recommended to explore the feasibility of framing a Central scheme for rehabilitation of beggars. Accordingly, a scheme for protection, care and rehabilitation of beggars is under formulation, which has, inter alia, provision for providing skill development training to able-bodied beggars,” Sampla said.
According to 2011 Census, the population of beggars and vagrants in India is about 4.13 lakh, of which 3.72 lakh persons are under non-workers category and 41,400 under marginal workers category. About 3,72,217 vagrants are under the age of 14 years.
During 1992-98, the ministry had implemented a scheme for beggary eradication, under which financial aid was given to set up of work centres at the existing beggar homes. That scheme was discontinued from 1998-99 due to moderate demand from the states.
At present, 20 states and two Union Territories have either enacted their own anti-beggary laws or adopted those enacted by other states. They are mostly based on the Bombay Prevention of Begging Act, 1959, which criminalises begging and any person found involved in it can be arrested without a warrant.