Ranchi, June 23: A state, whose youngest citizens are often the most vulnerable to being trafficked, sold as domestic slaves or voluntarily sent far off by parents, has finally woken up.
The state panchayati raj department has directed deputy commissioners of all 24 districts to help mukhiyas form bal mitra or child-friendly panchayats as soon as possible to prevent children from leaving the state.
In first phase, the new scheme will cover 75 child-friendly panchayats across 500 villages in all 24 districts of the state.
According to the plan, mukhiyas and members of gram panchayats will team up with deputy commissioners for a child-friendly environment in villages.
Mukhiyas, as the in-charges of bal mitra panchayat, and gram panchayat members will maintain registers of children, their families, contact numbers and photographs. SIRD and Unicef will give technical support to the proposal.
Confirming the developments, Job Zachariah, who happens to be the chief of Unicef (Jharkhand), said: “The bal mitra gram panchayats will at least keep tabs on children at the village level and help prevent them from being trafficked. It’s a welcome start.”
To be effective, after every three months, a review will be held under the aegis of a DC concerned to find if any children are missing from households.
At every child-friendly gram panchayat, the mukhiya concerned will also keep tabs on other aspects of child health and well-being, including nourishment, minor marriages and school admission and attendance, as the case may be.
Panchayati Raj institution members are already meeting DCs and DDCs to start constituting the gram panchayats.
Rinku Devi, mukhiya of Harina gram panchayat in Dhanbad district, said: “Hum log ko khabar mili hai ke jald se jald isko taiyyar kiya jaye (We got orders to get the child-friendly panchayats in place as soon as possible).”
“I wish this works and children stay safe,” the woman grassroots leader said. “I visited Kerala few days ago. We saw a similar panchayat system, which was quite impressive.”