‘Ensure safety and access to better health care and education’

Registering an infant mortality rate of 35.6 per 1,000 and an under five-year-old mortality rate at 73.6 per 1,000 in Delhi slums, the Capital has registered itself as a high-risk zone for children.

Highlighting the condition of children in urban slums, over a hundred representatives from 50 bastis across all the nine districts of Delhi met in the city recently to spell out the agenda to ensure safety and protection, access to health care and education for urban slum children.

The agenda, which has been handed over to all major political parties, noted that the absence of day-care arrangement led to many accidents, while poor quality of schools, anganwadis and dispensaries adversely impacted the children. The worst hit are differently-abled children and those whose lives have been disrupted by relocation and slum clearances.

Batting for the children, Devika Singh from non-government organisation Delhi FORCES said: “We appeal to the political leaders to put their will behind the various Acts that have been passed for the benefit of children; implement the programmes for children that have been planned – this is the action needed.”

“At the meeting, we had speakers from the slum clusters who listed the problems faced by their children. A mother spoke of her child falling into an open drain when she was at work. The child was being looked after by her eight-year-old daughter. Though the child survived, the prospects of child safety in the slums is frightening. The only anganwadi in the area works for a few hours, which isn’t enough,” noted Devika.

A release issued by NGO Alliance of Peoples’ Rights noted that “gangsters roam in the areas (urban slum clusters) where both parents work. Once a child is picked up he/she is almost always untraceable. Shockingly, at least 14 children go missing every day.”

“Eviction from bastis is another major issue and has adverse impact on women and children due to the collapse of the system and absence of basic services, anganwadis, schools, etc., in the area that they are relocated into,” added the group.

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