Convergence of Initiatives of Centre, States, and NGOs Stressed upon
A meeting of the Central Advisory Committee (CAC) on Combating Trafficking was held here today. Smt. Neela Ganagadharan, Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development chaired the meeting.
Drawing attention to the growing problem of trafficking in the country, the Secretary said that the menace can be effectively handled through convergence of efforts of the Centre, States and civil society organizations. She mentioned that the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Bill 2012, which has been passed by the Parliament, will go a long way in combating this problem due to the provisions included in the Bill, which link trafficking with protecting children from sexual offenses. She stated that sufficient legislative and programmatic framework exists to prevent and combat trafficking. Whereas the framework for prevention, protection and penalization is in place, strengthening of systems for their effective implementation is needed to combat this problem, the Secretary noted. Measures of the Ministry of Women and Child Development are supplemented by measures taken by the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Labour Ministry and Ministry of External Affairs, and the States/UTs. She also stated that the efforts of the civil society organizations, many of whom have been working extensively in this area, have helped to combat the problem. She invited suggestions and recommendations from the representatives of the Central and State governments, UNICEF, NGOs and other experts to strengthen the legislative and monitoring measures to combat trafficking. This is the first time when the Women and Child Development departments in the States have been asked to coordinate with the nodal Anti-Human Trafficking Units (AHTUs) for convergence of initiatives for prevention of trafficking, rescue and rehabilitation.
Elaborating on the initiatives taken up by the WCD Ministry to combat trafficking, the Secretary state that the Ujjwala Scheme was launched in 2008, which is a comprehensive scheme to prevent and combat trafficking, where funds and support is provide to agencies which work in the areas of prevention, rescue, rehabilitation, reintegration and repatriation of victims of trafficking. Since 2008, 188 Ujjwala projects across 19 states have been sanctioned. She however noted that the States need to be more pro-active to involve the NGOs for ensuring effective implementation of the Scheme. The Secretary stated that the Ministry of WCD is planning to introduce videoconferencing for sanctioning of Ujjwala projects. Participation of the Secretary, Department of WCD in the States will help to ensure participation and increased involvement of State Government in Ujjawala projects.
The Ministry of WCD also made a presentation on the actions taken since the last meeting of the CAC in May 2011. The Ministry is formulating better monitoring mechanism of the Ujjwala scheme. It has asked States to involve district level officers for more effective monitoring. Evaluation study of the scheme has been entrusted to the Programme Evaluation Organisation of the Planning Commission which will review the components of the scheme and make recommendations.
Addressing the meeting, Smt. B. Bhamathi, Additional Secretary, MHA said that several initiatives have been taken by the MHA to combat domestic and cross-border trafficking. Anti-Human Trafficking Units (AHTUs) have been set up in many States and equipped with infrastructure to assist the States in their efforts. Advisories have been issued to the States from time to time regarding diverse aspects of the trafficking problem. Representative from the Labour Ministry apprised the gathering on the schemes taken up for welfare of working children in areas of high concentration of child labour, schemes for bonded labour and those taken up for generating awareness regarding child labour.
Member Secretary, NCPCR, Sh. Lov Verma was also present during the meeting. Representatives from the department of WCD and police from Assam, Maharashtra, AP, Haryana, New Delhi, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and West Bengal were also present. Members of several NGOs working in the area of combating trafficking shared their experience regarding this, and made several recommendations to strengthen the coordination between the field level government and police functionaries.
The Central Advisory Committee (CAC) on Combating Trafficking was formed in 1994 with the Secretary, Ministry of WCD as the chairperson. It is the outcome of the Supreme Court Judgment in Vishal Jeet vs Union of India wherein the Supreme Court had directed that a Committee be formed at the Central and State levels to look into the issues of trafficking particularly child trafficking. Gradually the mandate of CAC has grown and it has been expanded to include representatives from all agencies concerned, thereby becoming a forum facilitating interaction between stakeholders to understand issues relating to trafficking and to evolve strategies for combating it.