Gangtok (IPR), 26 Mar : Hon’ble Union Minister for Women and Child Development, Smt Maneka Gandhi who is on a 3 days official visit to the state visited Freedom Shelter Home, Tathangchen where she interacted with individuals who have history of struggling with substance abuse and psychiatric disorders. She talked with them at length and enquired about their counseling, recreation activities, education and recovery processes whereby she also suggested that environmental wellbeing adds to the security of their mental stability and thus the in house patients should engage themselves in cooking, weaving, gardening so that they can focus on long term sustainability options for future livelihood. She listened to their inputs and assured all help. Thereafter, she visited the ICDS Centre at 2nd Mile where she took stock of the pre-school activities, nutrition and health information of children and interacted with the mothers and staffs of Centre.
Union Minister for Women & Child Development, Government of India, Smt Maneka Gandhi addressed a press conference this evening at Raj Bhawan.
Speaking to the media, the Minister informed that the Ministry under her charge is committed to provide all possible assistance to the State Government to strengthen and improve its Women and Child Care Institutions. When asked about her experiences from the field visit to various Centres today, the Minister informed that the most of the Centres are well maintained with requisite infrastructure and manpower but have still not been able to reach out to the desired target population. She specifically raised concern about the One Stop Crisis Centre at Lumsey which has seen only 59 reported cases in the last one year. She urged the media fraternity to help spread awareness and publicize this unique Centre so that more women in distress can come forward to avail the services available under one roof.
Speaking about her meeting with the State Chief Minister this morning, Smt Gandhi said that she requested the Chief Minister to offer the resources and help to convert the whole of India into an organic farming country. “I sought his help in this regard so that everybody benefits. I will be very happy if I get help to turn at least my constituency organic to start with,” she stated. Smt Gandhi added that she would go back and discuss with the Central Government to ask Sikkim’s technical support to impart training on Organic Farming to the rest of the States. Commending the State Government’s initiative to go fully Organic, the Minister stated that Sikkim is the only State in the country where Organic Farming is initiated by the State Government.
The Union Minister also lauded the environmental initiatives of the State Government such as ban on use of plastic, ban on grazing and felling trees, and poaching of wild animals. She also stated that the Orchids of the State have a unique identity and should be propagated and spread throughout the country. The youth should get into this field and more people should try greenhouse agriculture, she stated. The Government of India offers numerous incentives for Green House Agriculture and hence the youth of Sikkim should explore this area, she suggested.
Asked about her general observation about Sikkim, the Minister stated that she really liked the pristine beauty and cleanliness of the place. “The pedestrian walkway along M.G. Marg is such a good and happy idea, I wish we can implement this elsewhere,” she expressed.
When asked about the Ministry’s take on the alarming rise in human trafficking especially from the North Eastern States, the Minister replied that under her initiative, a Bill on Anti Trafficking has been introduced in the Parliament in the current Session. She added that the Bill in its present form is the best in the World and will give a huge respite to victims of trafficking, especially in terms of rehabilitating them.
The Minister also shared some of her personal interventions in the field of women and child development, care and protection namely Child Line, Khoya Paya, She-Box etc.
Replying to a query on the Government’s take on Rehabilitation of trafficked women who have been forced into prostitution, the Minister replied that activities like cooking, bakery etc which have been experimented in places like Pune, Maharashtra, have been successful to rehabilitate these women and given them an opportunity to pursue a sustainable livelihood. “If the State Government comes out with a scheme for rehabilitation of trafficked women, I will be more than happy to provide every assistance,” she stated.
On a question about the implementation of Six Months Maternity Leave Benefit to working women in Sikkim, the Minister stated that the State Government should immediately implement it. “I will speak to the Chief Minister about this and seek his intervention,” she stated.