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Himachal Bill for welfare of orphans and persons with special needs

  • Published
    11th Apr, 2023
Context

Recently the Himachal Pradesh Sukhashraya (Care, Protection, and Self-Reliance of Children of the State) Act, 2023 has been launched by the State government which aims to bring children under the legal ambit of the government’s welfare.

About the Act:
  • The Himachal Pradesh Sukhashraya (Care, Protection, and Self-Reliance of Children of the State) Act, 2023 states that orphans and persons with special needs will become ‘children of the state’.
  • The State government will provide financial and institutional benefits between the age of 18-27 years.
  • The Act facilitates that such children and adults will be provided with vocational training, skill development, and coaching to become active members of the mainstream of society.
  • Need of the initiative:
    • The orphans will not have to depend upon the largesse of other people and that the State itself will act as parent figures.

Key highlights:

  • The Act has defined ‘orphans’ as those who are currently without biological parents or whose parents have been medically proven to be incapacitated of taking care. The ambit is also extended to children relinquished by guardians or parents for social, emotional, and physical factors.
  • Beneficiaries:
    • The benefits of the Act will also be given to ‘children in need of care and protection’ such as those found who are without a home or working in contravention of labour laws.
    • Children forced to beg or whose guardians have threatened, abused, or intended physical and emotional harm, will also be taken care of by the state government.
    • Children at risk of marriage before the legal age, impacted by a crime, or vulnerable to drug abuse will also be under the scope of the Act.

As per initial estimates, more than 6,000 such persons have been identified.

  • Fund allocations:
    • The beneficiaries will be given 5, 000 in summer and a similar amount in winter to buy clothes.
    • A sum of Rs.500 will be given to the children to celebrate major festivals.
    • The orphans will be allowed to take a vacation within the state and the government will sponsor train tickets and accommodation for 10 days in a 3-star hotel.
    • On attaining the age of majority, the government will provide them Rs.4, 000 monthly allowances for daily expenses in college.
    • In institutions like ITI and other government colleges, the hostel fees of the beneficiaries will also be taken care of.

Safeguards available under the Act:

  • The state government shall make arrangements for ex-residents of child care institutions till the age of 21 years and in exceptional cases as may be prescribed up to the age of 23 years; and for orphans, by providing for their education, giving them employable skills and placement as well as providing them places for a stay in After Care Institutions, the Act states.
  • Recurring deposit accounts shall be opened for each child and orphan.
  • The state government shall make contributions to these accounts as per prevalent rates.
  • A child welfare committee will be established in each district which will look into the demands of children in need.
  • The committee will overlook the admissions in aftercare institutions and carry out surveys to identify orphans.
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