20 shelters for over 10k street kids

PMC conducts first-of-its-kind survey for homeless children, plans to majorly expand rehabilitation facilities in the city
In a first, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has conducted a survey of homeless children in the city, with the help of a Hyde rabad-based NGO, and now plans to set shelter homes for them.The survey, done ward by ward, documented around 10,293 street children around the city, and the civic body will set up 20 homes for their rehabilitation. Notably, the maximum number of children (1,605) were found in Baner-Balewadi area, which is selected as the pilot ward under the smart city mission. This was followed by Gultekdi and Mental Hospital (Vishranwadi area), while Manik Baug-Sinhagad Rd came in fourth.

Ganesh Sonune, acting in-charge of PMC’s social development department (SDD), said, “This was the first survey of its kind related to street children, conducted along with the Rainbow Homes NGO. During the survey, we found around 27 children vending on the streets and traffic signals and only 8 per cent of were found begging.Right now, we have only one shelter in the city, located at Yerwada. This houses 100 street children and is run by another NGO. Now, we have to set up around 20 such centres to rehabilitate all these children where we can provide them with basic facilities along with education.“

He added, “We are making a detailed report on their rehabilitation and are aware that frequent counselling is needed to change their mindset.We will start the process soon and then will able tell how many want to stay in the homes.“

According to civic officials, the reason for the high number of street children in Baner-Balewadi is that it is well-connected to Mumbai and Pimpri-Chinchwad. Also, the area is a hotbed of construction activities.

In the survey, 50 per cent of the children fell in the 6-14 years category, while 21 per cent were in the category of 3-5 years. There are 163 children living alone, while 8,372 live with their families. The remaining are working on the streets. Only 894 children are from Pune city, with most being from places such as Usmanabad, Latur, Beed, Parbhani, and Solapur. There are also some from Nepal and Bangladesh.

V Ch S Bahadur, director ( programmes) of Rainbow Homes, said, “We conducted the survey over a month and are making detailed analysis of the findings. At present, we can say that for the age group of 6 to 14 years, there should be a residential school provided within city limits. For those above 14 years, we have to provide them with vocational training so that they may be ready for employment.“

Source : TOI