‘No guidelines for regulating NGOs in Himachal Pradesh’

March 20th, 2009 - 7:37 pm ICT by IANS  

By Vishal Gulati
Shimla, March 20 (IANS) The failure of the Himachal Pradesh government to frame guidelines to monitor working of the NGOs and rehabilitation centres was one of the reasons for the shocking case of four teachers sexually exploiting six girls at a centre-cum-hostel here, claims an NGO.

Shimla-based Society for Disability and Rehabilitation Studies (SDRS) has claimed that the National Policy For Persons with Disability Act requires the states to frame guideline to regulate NGOs.

“The state (Himachal Pradesh) is yet to frame guidelines for the NGOs that are registered under the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995, for taking care of special children,” SDRS chairman Ajai Srivastava told IANS Thursday.

He said that till date only Goa has come up with guidelines under the act.

According to him, Prerna Rehabilitation Centre was working illegally for the past four years and the government was not aware of its activities.

“The centre had been working illegally since 2004 and it got registration certificate from the state Department of Social Justice and Empowerment in November 2008 on the recommendation of a district welfare officer,” Srivastava said.

“At the time of registration, no proper inspection of the centre was done,” alleged Srivastava, who is also a member of the Rehabilitation Council of India of the union ministry of social justice and empowerment.

“After the registration, no government official bothered to inspect its working.”

The centre also did not have proper classrooms for special children. The lone female teacher of the centre was on maternity leave for the past three months. There was no female helper to take care of the needs of the students.

The centre has more than 25 special students and was getting grant a monthly grant of Rs.30,000 under the state-sponsored Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) scheme. The grant was stopped after the episode was uncovered.

Srivastava said most of the teachers in such centres are not even registered as professionals with the Rehabilitation Council of India.

“It’s mandatory under the Rehabilitation Council of India Act, 1992, to get professionals registered. In the Prerna Centre, the teachers were not even registered with the Rehabilitation Council of India,” he said.

Managing director of the Prerna Centre Komal said: “We have applied for the registration of the teachers with the Rehabilitation Council of India, but I do not have papers with me.”

Komal is the sister of the centre principal, who is also accused of sexually abusing the girls.

Official sources said the government has no record about the total number of rehabilitation centres working in the state.

Even the office of the disability commissioner has been non-functional as additional charge of the commissioner has been given to the principal secretary, social justice and empowerment department.

Social Justice and Empowerment Director Subashish Panda said: “We are keeping vigil only on the working of state-funded NGOs that are running rehabilitation centres.”

Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal said: “It’s a serious issue and I have directed authorities to maintain record of all the rehabilitation centres, both aided and non-aided, being run by the NGOs in the state. We have decided to frame specific rules in order to bring all of them under the ambit of law.”

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