Mumbai: The Union Ministry of Women and Child Development has initiated steps to transfer as many as 1,845 aided playgroups set up under the National Rajiv Gandhi Playgroup scheme to the Maharashtra government compounding its problems in the absence of a policy to regulate creches and playgroups in the state.
A recent incident at Kharghar in Navi Mumbai, wherein a 10-month-old girl was brutally assaulted by a helper at a creche, had raised questions on the regulatory mechanism for such playschools and day care centres across the state.
According to a state government official, in the absence of any regulatory mechanism in place it is difficult for government agencies to regulate privately operated playgroups in the state.
“To make matters worse the Centre now wants the state to take over the control of the NRGPS playgroups,” he said.
A survey conducted in the aftermath of the Kharghar incident revealed insufficient number of children in playgroups, lack of toilet facilities, lack of first aid facilities and other shortcomings across such centres in the state, he said adding that these playschools must fulfill all these criterion if they are to be given grants at all.
The official said that the Centre has 2-3 vigilance officers from the Social Welfare Board in each state.
“There are two such officers in Maharashtra. It is humanly impossible for these two officers from the Centre to keep a check ib 1,845 playgroups in Maharashtra. Hence the playgroups are being transferred to the state,” he said.
Under the NRGPS the Centre operates around 21,012 playgroups all over the country, out of which 1,845 are in Maharashtra.
The Union Ministry of Women and Child Development allocates grant of Rs 42,480 through Social Welfare Board to each of the playgroups run by voluntary agencies under NRGPS.
The Centre, this year, hiked this grant to Rs 1.51 lakh. However, there is no regulatory mechanism for playgroups that are run in urban and rural areas.