Advisor to the Governor, Khurshid Ahmed Ganai today said that the State Government is committed for safety, welfare, and overall development of the children.
“The State Government has taken various initiatives towards child welfare, which include introducing and implementing various welfare schemes through Social Welfare department,” Advisor said while addressing the 2nd Roundtable Conference on “Implementation of Juvenile Justice System” organized jointly by the J&K High Court, J&K Government, Juvenile Justice Committee of the Supreme Court of Indi and UNICEF.
Justice Madan B Lokur, Judge, Supreme Court of India and Chairman Supreme Court Committee on Juvenile Justice; Justice Gita Mittal, Chief Justice, J&K High Court; Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey, Chairman, Juvenile Justice Committee, J&K High Court; BVR Subrahmanyam, Chief Secretary, J&K; Astha Saxena, Joint Secretary, Union Ministry of Women and Child Development; Dr S P Vaid, Director General J&K Police; VK Singh, Special DGP and Nodal Officer on Child Welfare; Justice Hasnain Masoodi (Retd), Chairman of the ‘Selection-cum-oversight Committee’ for monitoring and evaluation of ICPS; Dr Farooq Ahmad Lone, Secretary Social Welfare, J&K; Abdul Rashid Malik, Secretary, Juvenile Justice Committee of the J&K High Court and Aguilar Javier, Chief, Child Protection, UNICEF also addressed the conference.
Judges of the High Court, Secretary Law, Abdul Majid Bhat, senior officers of the civil administration, Advocates and other dignitaries were present in the conference.
Ganai said that the State Government has rolled out the Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) which is closely linked to the theme of the Conference. He said a proposal to the Government of India has also been sent for funding to the tune of Rs 30 crore for the current financial year so that the targets fixed under the scheme are achieved.
Likewise, the Advisor said the Social Welfare Department has also implemented Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) which targets more than 10 lakh beneficiaries by addressing health and nutrition needs of children, pregnant women and nursing mothers.
Giving detail about the money spent on the welfare of children belonging to tribal population and other backward classes, the Advisor said the Social Welfare Department also implements various scholarship schemes for students belonging to SCs, OBCs, Pahari-speaking people, economically-backward, students with disabilities, de-notified tribes and national minorities. He said around Rs 55 crore is spent every year, to benefit around 4 lakh students. The scholarship covers pre and post-matric and merit-cum-means for pursuing the education at the cutting-edge level, he added.
Speaking about the Mid-Day meal scheme, the Advisor said, “out of the 13 lakh children up to upper primary level, over 9 lakh children are studying in State-run schools where the Mid-Day Meal Scheme is compulsory. An amount of Rs 93.45 crore has been spent on Mid-Day Meal scheme in the State during 2017-18. During the current fiscal, an amount of Rs. 126.21 crore has been allocated for implementation of the aforesaid nutritional scheme,” he said.
Speaking about Anganwari centres, the Advisor said the State has around 29,599 Anganwari Centres through which supplementary nutrition is being provided to young children between the age of 0-6 years. Recently, the honorarium of Anganwari workers and helpers has been raised from Rs.3600 and Rs. 1800 to Rs. 4100 and Rs. 2200 respectively.
He said for successful implementation of all these schemes, the Social Welfare Department is spending around Rs 2200 crore including Rs 400 crore from the Central Government every year. This funding covers around 22 lakh beneficiaries across the State.
Giving a background about Juvenile Justice Act, the Advisor said that the State passed its own Juvenile Justice Act way back in 1997.
“In March 2013, the Government repealed the 1997 Act and enacted the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2013. Subsequently, in March 2014, the Rules of the Act were notified. This was done to ensure provisions for proper care, protection and treatment by catering to the development needs of juveniles and for the adjudication and disposition of matters in the best interests of the children and for their rehabilitation,” he explained.
He said that the Act protects not only the rights of the juvenile but also person’s rights when s/he was a juvenile. He added that the Act also provides numerous mechanisms containing safeguards and protection for both the juveniles in conflicts with law and child in need of care and protection.
Ganai said J&K Government, under the guidance of the High Court, is making earnest efforts for implementation of J&K Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2013 with a special focus on children in conflict with law and children in need of care and protection.
He said as per the provisions of the Act, Selection-cum-Oversight Committee, headed by Justice (retd) Hasnain Masoodi has been constituted and with their strenuous efforts, Government has put in place the Child Welfare Committees (CWCs) and the Juvenile Justice Boards (JJBs) in all the 22 districts of the State.
He said now the focus is on providing required infrastructure and manpower support to make these institutions more vibrant which shall pave way for the better delivery mechanism on the ground. The District Child Protection Units along with the required staff are also in place in all the districts of the State.
The Advisor said presently, State has two Government-run Observation Homes, one at Srinagar and other at Jammu. Similarly, there are Children Homes run by the Government where boys and girls are housed for overall welfare and rehabilitation. Efforts are on to see that every district shall have the homes to care and protection of children. He said that from the date of last Round Table Conference, 361 children from Observation Homes alone have been rehabilitated. These children include some from neighboring countries like Nepal and Burma and even some from other states of the country like West Bengal.
Ganai informed that the State Government has also constituted a Rehabilitation Council for the rehabilitation of victims of militancy and over the years, adding that the Council extends help and financial assistance to the victims including financial assistance to such families of the militants who are in great financial distress.