A survey by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has found that about two lakh children in the country, mostly belonging to families of migrant labourers, are roaming the streets and falling prey to drug addiction, said NCPCR chairman, Priyank Kanoongo.
Addressing a seminar in Kolkata on ‘Child Rights Protection and Future of Indian Public Policy’, organized by the Bharat Chamber of Commerce, Mr Kanoongo said that the Commission conducted a nationwide survey of street children which revealed that two lakh children are wandering in the streets.
“They are not necessarily orphans or homeless, rather such children account for only 5 per cent of the total figure. Most children found on the streets are of migrant workers dwelling in the cities for seasonal work”, he added.
Speaking of the other activities of the Commission, he informed that orphanages and child rehabs in the country were audited and it was found that 7164 such homes are in operation out of which 4000 are in Maharashtra and the five southern states of the country.
He highlighted that the Commission ensured the return of 145000 children to their parents and busted a nationwide network of a foreign-funded businesses that forced parents to send their children to such homes. The chairperson of the child rights body also pointed out that initiatives in preventing the spread of drug addiction amongst children, from consuming dextromethorphan through cough syrups sold from pharmacies, was a laudable move where 76,000 pharmacies installed cameras in their premises.
The constitution of the Bal Swaraj Portal is another landmark achievement of the Commission which has been instrumental in extending relief support to children during the COVID-19 pandemic. “As many as 180000 children impacted by the pandemic were provided with the necessary relief support in this regard.”
He noted the relevance of child treatment as a precondition to economic performance: “The formal sector always has a link with the informal sector. Though child labour is prohibited in the formal sector, the informal sector does not face any restrictions in employing children.
Such incidences often result in overseas sanctions on the exports of certain goods and affect economic prosperity. Our treatment towards children has a ripple effect on our economic performance”, he added.