Srinagar: Four years have passed by since the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to implement the Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) was signed between the J&K government and the Government of India (GoI), but there has been no progress on the ground even though crores of rupees were released for the scheme a year ago.
All the states of India have already implemented the scheme which is funded 90% by GoI and 10% by the state government. J&K is the only state where ICPS is awaiting implementation, even after four years of the MoU signed in 2013.
The ICPS is designed to build a protective environment for children living in difficult and vulnerable circumstances. The ICPS works in a government-civil society partnership and mandates a State Child Protection Society (SCPS), Juvenile Justice Boards (JJBs), and Child Welfare Committees (CWCs) in all states.
The scheme also envisages Special Juvenile Police Units (SJPUs) in all districts and a designated child welfare officer in each police station, within a period of three months of signing of the MoU.
Government officials associated with the scheme say that the Integrated Child-Care Development Scheme (ICDS), under which ICPS projects are to be administered, has done nothing. An official said that “zero headway” has been made in ICDS in the past three years.
“It was in 2013 that an MoU was signed by the government here, for the full implementation of the scheme. But, even after four years the ICDS is still busy with recruitments and paper work. The scheme was expected to be implanted within a year of the signing of the MoU but the officials sat on the project for three years,” an official said. He added that the project even lacks the required infrastructure for it.
He said that the only progress made has been the constitution of a committee to coordinate the entire project.
In March last year, the GoI’s Ministry of Women and Child Development approved a grant of over Rs 27 crore for the ICPS in Jammu & Kashmir. The Project Approval Board (PAB) of the Ministry also agreed to release a non-recurring grant of Rs 3 crore for the financial year 2015-16 for the scheme.
“At the request of the state government, the central government had approved the establishment of homes for children with special needs in Srinagar and Jammu. It also agreed to consider upgrading the existing Bal Ashrams and children’s homes managed by the state in different districts, and bringing them at par with ICPS norms in terms of staff and infrastructure,” the spokesman of the Ministry had told a news agency.
Even Governor NN Vohra, through a personal letter, had requested Maneka Gandhi, Minister for Women and Child Development, for release of the grant due in 2015-16 for ICPS and to also accord approval for establishing two new homes for children with special needs in J&K.
Last year in June, Sajad Gani Lone, J&K minster for social welfare, had said during the summer session of the legislative assembly that the process of setting up Juvenile Justice Boards would be completed within next two months. The state of J&K enacted the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act in 2013 but has not yet set up a Juvenile Justice Board.
Minster for State (MoS) social welfare, Asea Naqash, told Kashmir Reader that “some staff-related issues” had hindered the implementation of ICPS but the department is now done with the recruitment process.
“It is a matter of few days now that the scheme would be entirely implemented,” Naqash said. “We are done with procurement of staff and the process of establishing State Child Protection Society, Juvenile Justice Boards, and Child Welfare Committees have been taken up by the department,” she said.
The ICPS is also expected to set up a child protection data management system to formulate and implement effective intervention strategies and monitor the outcomes of all children’s welfare schemes.