The Meghalaya Assembly’s committee on women empowerment has conducted a review of North Garo Hills and found that its processing of child abuse cases under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act were slow.
“Many cases remained pending and incomplete from 2015 onwards. Occurrence of domestic violence and crimes against women and children were fewer as compared to some parts of the state. This delay in processing of cases was due to frequent transfers in the Women Police Station – it was observed that there is an urgent need to ensure that the WPS should perform and deliver,” committee chairperson Ampareen Lyngdoh said today after meeting heads of various line departments to review the various issues related to women.
According to her, women and child victims require focused, consistent counselling and hand-holding besides safehouses and the Social Welfare Department needs regular reviews and reinforced dealing of cases to achieve expected results.
Other areas highlighted by the committee include the Jal Jeevan Mission, which Lyngdoh said lacked focus. She said that several healthcare facilities, Anganwadi centres and educational institutions still lacked potable water connections.
Aadhaar card coverage is low in the district and this has a knock-on effect in the ability of vulnerable people to get ration cards.
“The committee also took note of the alarming rise in the IMR (infant mortality rate) in the district. 84 infant deaths in 2019-2020 indicate serious concerns on anti- and post-natal care of newborns. MMR (maternal mortality rate) data improved substantially from the last review undertaken by the committee approximately two years ago,” Lyngdoh said even though home births remain high.
Stating that the Meghalaya Health Insurance Scheme coverage was under 50 percent in the district, she said, “In the implementation of the MGNREGA (rural employment scheme), North Garo Hills recorded a high registration of women in the job card scheme with 31,435 enrolments, as compared to the 9,748 males. The committee took note of this good practice and recommends for its replica in all parts of the state.”
The other members of the Assembly committee who visited the area include Himalaya M. Shangpliang, Miani D. Shira, Rupert Momin and Mayralborn Syiem.
Earlier during the day, the committee also visited Kharkutta Primary Health Centre and discussed with officials on the deficiencies at the health centre.