Delhi minister for women and child development Sandeep Kumar promised to make allocations in the state Budget to develop creches in urban slums and invited civil society organisations to have discussi
Delhi minister for women and child development Sandeep Kumar promised to make allocations in the state Budget to develop creches in urban slums and invited civil society organisations to have discussions with the department during the state-level dialogue on young child issues organised by the network of NGOs called Neenv, Delhi Forces in New Delhi on Friday.
“This discussion should happen with the (women and child development) department. We will consider all suggestions and work on them. We will make more than 300 creches, we will make policies in a week but we need your cooperation,” Mr Kumar told NGOs and community representatives present at the meeting.
A demand to set up creches within the community and at the place of work for caretaking and security of young children in urban slums was placed before the minister by Neenv, a network of 40 grassroots NGOs working for children under six years in urban poor settlements in Delhi. This demand was endorsed by 13,000 signatories from slums and resettlements across Delhi, which are home to 50 per cent of the 12 lakh children under six years. Currently there is no provision for state-run creches for younger children under the integrated child development services scheme while the Rajiv Gandhi creche scheme covers only 17,000 children in Delhi.
Community representatives voiced their concerns at the meeting. “I lock my two toddlers in the house when I go work, I have nowhere else to leave them,” said one daily wage labourer. Another recounted how a girl had drowned and died in a canal when her parents were off at work. “One three-year-old girl was raped in my locality. I am always worried about my daughters when I leave for work,” said another woman. All of them expressed the need for a safe space where the children can be left from morning to evening, fed nutritious food, given adequate education and medication when needed while the parents make a living.
With about a month left before the announcement of the next state Budget, the AAP government has yet to set up the 300 creches planned under the anganwadi-cum-creche scheme in 2015. Not even one of the 30 creches that were plan-ned as a pilot — 15 each for the slums in northeast and south Delhi — has been made yet, said Snehalata of NGO Mobile Creches, a member of Neenv.
“In the past two years, we have given several presentations, had several meetings, but nothing has come of it. Unless we see something on the ground, how will we believe him ” said Amrita Jain of Mobile Creches. The money for the 30 creches has been allocated, locations have been identified, but no work has started, alleged Ms Jain.
“First there needs to be allocation in the Budget and then implementation,” she said.
The event was also attended by deputy speaker of the Delhi Legislative Assembly Bandana Kuma-ri and Delhi Cantonment MLA Surinder Singh. Ms Kumari repeated the invitation to the stakeholders to join in discussions on the issue of young child development, and said, “There is no power in the existing laws, there is a need to change them. You give us feedback, we will plan and work together.”
Mr Singh, while promising to remind Mr Kumar of the matter, said, “Parents should be able to leave their children in creches without worrying about their well-being so that they can work.” He noted that this plan will be successful if it is done devoid of any politics.