The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Tuesday urged the Bombay High Court to issue directions to the various development and transport authorities to provide plots for construction of shelter homes for children living on the streets in Mumbai. The civic body also sought suggestions from experts for the schooling and opening up de-addiction centres for such children, so that the same can be incorporated in its development plan (DP) of 2034. Taking note of the issue, the division bench of Chief Justice Naresh Patil and Justice Makarand Karnik asked the Maharashtra government to consider conducting survey of children living on the streets across the state. The direction was issued while hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by an activist highlighting the huge number of children living on streets. The PIL also highlighted the fact how such vulnerable children are subjected to abuse, sexually and otherwise.
The plea sought construction of shelter homes and also urged the court to direct concerned authorities to provide better amenities to such children. Pursuant to earlier orders, the BMC counsel submitted before the court a report stating over 300 schools imparting Marathi education are functional in the city. “Out of these, around 67 are shut and of these 67 schools 23 are converted into English medium schools,” the BMC counsel submitted. “As far as the night shelter homes are concerned, we seek assistance from other authorities like the Airport Authorities of India (AAI), Railways, Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA), Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) and etc.
They must step in and provide with land, we will provide funds for the construction of such shelter homes,” the counsel submitted. Interrupting the submissions, Asha Mukundan and Vijay Raghavan, the amicus curiae in the case, said, “These centres are mostly for adults and not dedicated for children. There are no separate beds for children.” Mukundan and Raghavan further said the schools which are shut can be used as night shelter homes for such children. Having heard the submissions advanced, CJ Patil said, “Before proceeding with issuing any directions we want to know the head count of such children. We think the government must conduct a survey and submit a report at the earliest.” “As regards the Task Force Committee constituted way back in 2014, we direct the chief secretary to look into the issue and convene regular meetings of the same,” CJ Patil said. The bench accordingly posted the matter for further hearing in January directing the BMC to submit its affidavit so that Mukundan and Raghavan, can given in their suggestions.
Source: The Free Press Journal