Child welfare panel decides against immediate closure as it will leave inmates in lurch

The Child Welfare Committee (CWC) has directed the administrators of Vaduthala asylum to improve its hygienic conditions and ensure clean atmosphere for the inmates.

Inspections revealed that the asylum was keeping more children than permissible. Though the institution had permission to accommodate 75 children, over 100 were found staying in unhygienic conditions. Majority of the inmates were children with special need, who lacked toilet training, said Padmaja Nair, chairperson of the CWC.

The proprietor has also been directed to appear before the CWC panel on Friday. The panel will issue a detailed guideline for improving the living conditions of the children housed there. It was earlier reported that over 100 children were housed in a single floor of a three-storied building with no basic facilities. The children did not even have proper toilets in the floor they were staying. Several sick persons were also seen staying in unhygienic conditions in the building.

According to the chairperson, an immediate closure of the institution will put the inmates, including the children, in deep stress as no agency will come forward to take their custody. A humanitarian approach should be adopted while dealing with the children. The asylum managers were finding it difficult to hire cleaners and helpers for running the institution and hence they had plans to train senior children for the job, she said.

Overcrowding the asylum with inmates beyond the permissible capacity would amount to violation of child rights. However, the immediate closure of the institution is not the answer to the issue though the violation of rights has taken place. Hence, the institution will be given six months time to improve the hygienic conditions. Improving the living conditions of the children should get priority. The CWC will closely monitor the functioning of the institution during this period and if the agency fails to bring in qualitative change, it would be left to the law to decide on the future of the institution, the chairperson said.

The CWC itself had earlier handed over around 25 minor children to the institution, who were picked up by the police. The police have directly handed over a few children above 18 years there.

More In: Kochi