State Planning Commission Vice-Chairperson releases UNICEF report

Setting a precedent, the State Planning Commission will this year include feedback from children on the measures that need to be included in the final submission of Tamil Nadu's 12 Five Year Plan.

Launching the UNICEF's flagship report, ‘The State of the World's Children-2012: Children in an Urban World', Santha Sheela Nair, Commission Vice-Chairperson, said key suggestions from the consultations among children organised by the UNICEF could be incorporated into the 12 Plan, which was now in the draft stage.

She also suggested that the UNICEF circulate among children a note on the State's 12 Plan proposals on a range of child rights, including the rights to education and health, so that the children could become more effective partners in the decision-making process.

The Planning Commission official expected to get to know what kind of programmes would benefit children better through such UNICEF consultations.

Ms. Nair also urged the children to form self-supporting peer groups, which could contribute a great deal to the dynamics of programmes aimed at curbing issues such as child trafficking and child sexual abuse.

The fundamental step to ensuring the rights of the child was to devise a way to register migrant children in cities because facilitating proper citizenship was an essential ingredient of inclusiveness, she said.

Ns. Nair later told reporters that the 12 plan would have a separate Working Group on Children's Rights that will focus on drinking water, sanitation, security, trafficking, health, rights, education and sexual abuse, she said.

According to UNICEF data, Tamil Nadu has the country's fourth largest slum population (87 lakh, of which 12 lakh are in Chennai) and 48 per cent of the State's 69 lakh children under six years of age live in urban areas.

India has over 50,000 slums and 70 per cent of them are concentrated in Maharashtra (35 per cent), Andhra Pradesh (11 per cent), West Bengal (10 per cent), Tamil Nadu and Gujarat (seven per cent each).

K. Dhanavel, Member-Secretary, Planning Commission and Satish Kumar, Chief of Field Office, UNICEF also spoke.

Savitha, an eighth standard girl from North Chennai, provided feedback on some of the common problems faced by children that included issues of safety on the streets and lack of amenities at school.