Chairperson of the Legislature Committee on Women and Child Development Shakuntala Shetty on Friday said she was not aware of incidents of poverty-stricken women from Banjara tandas deep inside the Konchavaram forest in Chincholi taluk of Gulbarga district giving away their newborns for adoption or abandoning them at adoption centres. She was also not aware of incidents of sale of girl babies in these tandas a few years ago.
Reports of these incidents had shocked the conscience of all. The then Chairperson of the Karnataka State Women’s Commission Manjula and chairman of the Karnataka Thanda Development Corporation M. Basavaraj Naik had visited the tandas where such incidents were reported last year and promised several welfare schemes for the residents. The schemes, however, are yet to be implemented.
Ms. Shetty, who was in Gulbarga city on Friday to chair a meeting of the Legislature Committee on Women and Child Development, said she was not aware of these incidents. Officials accompanying her wanted presspersons to provide them clippings of newspaper reports about these incidents for a follow-up.
When asked if the Union government has sanctioned any special project for economic empowerment of women in these tandas, Ms. Shetty said she was not aware of any such project.
She said poverty among tanda residents could be overcome by converging various welfare schemes and programmes launched by the Union and State governments and utilising funds available under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA).
To a query on whether the committee members would visit these tandas and see for themselves the woeful condition in which Banjara families were living, Ms. Shetty said it would not be possible for her to visit the tandas this time, but she would visit them some other time to study the situation.
She said Women and Child Development Department authorities would be instructed to take up awareness programmes in the tandas and discourage women against giving up their children for adoption or abandon them in adoption centres.
To a query on high prevalence of malnutrition among young children and newborns in the Hyderabad Karnataka region, Ms. Shetty said the government had initiated measures to overcome this problem such as providing milk and eggs to children in schools. “If children were not being provided milk and eggs, please give us of details such schools, we will ask the department to take action against them,” she said.