As many as 28 child care institutions in Odisha do not have basic facilities such as proper toilets, safe drinking water and cooking gas stove and in many of these homes, the children are kept in "unhygienic conditions", according to an inspection report by the apex child rights body. The inspection carried out by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) also revealed that in two homes the infrastructure was poor, even the basic facilities are lacking, therefore, children of these homes may be shifted.
"Homes may be closed due to multiple reasons like home is running without valid registration, a large number of children kept without the order of child welfare committee, children are being influenced for religious convergence, lack of basic facilities, no female staff in the home despite girls are staying the home, and no care plan for children," the NCPCR said in the report, accessed by PTI. FIRs may be registered or police enquiry may be carried out against 13 homes for violation of various provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act, the report recommended.
Further enquiry is required in six homes for detailed information and facts. Children from nine homes may be produced to the respective child welfare committees for their individual cases and eight homes need immediate necessary action, the report said. The report said it was observed that 28 homes lack a minimum standard of care and facilities.
"There was no basic facility like proper bathrooms, toilets, safe drinking water, air cooler during summer, gas stove for cooking, etc. The Juvenile Justice Act provides for a minimum standard of care for the children. However, in many homes the children are kept in unhygienic condition without providing them a minimum standard of care," it said. The report also showed that in 21 homes, security arrangements were inadequate.
"There is no sufficient number of security cameras installed in the homes. Though homes have cameras, the cameras are not installed at a strategic location. Not sufficient number of security guards engaged for protection of the homes," the inspection report said. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights conducted inspections at 56 randomly-selected children's homes in 19 districts of Odisha in the aftermath of the alleged sexual abuse of minor girls at a shelter home in Dhenkanal district.
In the inspection report, the NCPCR said it was also observed that a phenomenon has emerged in a few districts that children belonging to a particular religion are kept in the home managed by the religious institution of the same faith. "Since children are sent to a Child Care Institution under the direction of Child Welfare Committees (CWCs) and how the children belonging to same faith are sent to home run by the management of same faith," it said.
The question arises if the CWCs are not sensitised and sending children to designated homes based on the religion of the children beyond the boundary of their district. It was felt by the Commission that the phenomenon is the against the spirit of secular principles and requires further investigation by the state government. Another observable fact came to the notice conducting inspection was that children irrespective of their religious background were taught religious text like the Bible in some of the homes, the report said.
"Children who are in need of care and protection face multiple deprivations and are vulnerable to get influenced. The United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) states that 'States Parties undertake to respect the right of the child to preserve his or her identity, including nationality, name and family relations as recognized by law without unlawful interference'," it said. Accordingly, it is recommended by the Commission to conduct further police inquiry on the matter, the report said.