The West Bengal government has warned the district child protection officers (DCPOs) of Kolkata, North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas districts in view of the child-trafficking racket that was busted in the state last week and asked them to step up surveillance in every state-run home.
The three DCPOs were "verbally" warned and asked to step up surveillance of special adoption agencies (SAAs) and NGOs dealing with adoption, besides the state-run homes, Minister for Health and Social Welfare Shashi Panja said today.
"The DCPOs of these three districts have been warned verbally. They have been asked to improve their performance, step up surveillance and visit these homes frequently to keep a tab on the activities there... Next time, they will be show-caused," she added.
West Bengal currently has 19 state-aided homes, 24 SAAs and 39 NGO-run homes, Panja said.
According to the minister, the state has already stepped up vigilance of the homes and child welfare committees (CWCs). The district child protection units have been directed to visit the homes, NGOs and SAAs.
The department has also decided to check the licences of NGOs to verify their authentication, Panja said, adding that she would meet the CID sleuths to take stock of the situation.
The state has also decided that from now on, municipalities and local police would verify the details of NGOs dealing with children and tallying their registration and operational activities, she said.
Asked if there was any shortfall in terms of manpower to keep an eye on the NGOs and homes responsible for adoption in the state leading to the growth of child-trafficking rackets, Panja said, "There is no such shortfall or lack of manpower.
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Stressing on awareness of the common people about the adoption process, Panja said irregularities at the Joka Millennium Old Age Home and Rehab Centre surfaced when last year, documents submitted by its owner Bimal Adhikari were found to be "full of flaws".
The CID has arrested Adhikari for his alleged involvement in the child-trafficking racket busted in Baduria in North 24 Parganas district.
Ten infants were rescued from 'Purbasa', a home for the elderly and mentally challenged persons in the Thakurpukur area of the city, and the daughter of co-accused Putul Banerjee held earlier in this connection, was arrested.
The CID, on November 21, busted a child-trafficking racket from a nursing home in North 24 Parganas' Baduria and rescued the 10 infants, exhumed the remains of two infants and arrested 18 persons, including two doctors, for their alleged involvement.
With the CID busting the racket, it had come to light that newborns were being smuggled to other states as also abroad inside cardboard boxes meant for biscuit packaging.