Speaking on the occasion, the Minister said that there are there are at least 5-6 lakh children who either use railways or arrive on railway stations, and are either runaway or abandoned or trafficked and are in need of assistance. The Minister said that the Ministry of Women and Child Development and the Ministry of Railways have developed Special Operating Procedures (SOPs) to be implemented by Railways to ensure care and protection of such children in contact with railways.20 railway stations have already started implementing these SOPs, the Minister added. Smt Maneka Gandhi termed the implementation of these SOPs as an historic moment in the field of child welfare. The Minister elaborated that these railway stations will have NGOs/Child Help Groups working with them who will work for restoration of children to their parents/guardians or their rehabilitation in absence of the former. These stations will also help Child Help Desk/kiosk/Booths with a telephone facility to call child helpline 1098.
The Minister appealed to the NGOs to come forward to partner with more and more such railway stations for restoration and rehabilitation of children. She also urged the train passengers and other people to alert the authorities if they come across any child in need of help. For this, a large awareness campaign is being launched by NCPCR comprising of signages in coaches, announcements and other audio-video material, she said. The Minister said that 1 lakh such signages will be put out in coaches.
Finally, the Minister asked the NCPCR to work out a programme, along the lines of STEP(for women), of training those children who are not restored to their parents to enable them to acquire skills to be able to gradually earn their livelihood .
Member, Railway Board, Shri Pradeep Kumar said that Railways is willing to offer all help possible to assist all children in contact with Railways. He hoped that railways will be able to expand the list of stations where the SOPs have become operational beyond the initial 20,if more NGOs come forward to work for them.
The Minister also released the booklet on SOPs on the occasion.
Senior officials of NCPCR, Railways, NGOs and States attended the Conference.