In order to make Assam free of incident of child marriages by the year 2026, the state government has announced to launch ‘Mission for Prevention of Child Marriage’ with a budget allocation of Rs 200 crore.
Assam finance minister Ajanta Neog, while presenting the state budget for the fiscal year 2023-24, stated that child marriage has been one of the prominent reasons for high maternal and infant mortality rates, thus, curbing child marriages in the State has not only become necessity but an urgency.
“We have been sincerely addressing these concerns and could reduce our maternal mortality from 237 in the year 2014-16 to 195 in the year 2018-20 and infant mortality rate from 49 in the year 2014 to 36 in the year 2020. Child marriage has been one of the prominent reasons for our high IMR and MMR. Sir, here I would like to point out that curbing child marriages in the State has not only become necessity but an urgency. Our government has launched a mass drive against the violators of “Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (PCMA) 2006” earlier this year. To sustain the efforts, our government is committed to launch this State mission with a target of making Assam free of incident of child marriage by the end of year 2026,” said Ajanta Neog at the Assam Budget Session.
She also stated that all gram panchayat secretaries in Assam are being designated as The Child Marriage Prevention Officers. They will ensure prohibition of child marriages, the protection of the victims as well as prosecution of the offenders by lodging FIRs.
The finance minister also stated that all the district police forces will continue to conduct intensive drives every 6 months to take necessary action against offenders.
“The Mission will work in a time-bound manner and will link all programs and services that are working for women and children, for effective implementation of special legislations such as Prevention of Child Marriage Act 2006, POCSO Act 2012, Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection) Act, 2015 and Right to Education Act, 2009 in collaboration with relevant line departments, stakeholders like NGOs and Samaritan volunteers. This Mission will specifically focus on surveillance, strengthening institutions, introduction of helpline, and rehabilitation of victims. There will be a call centre to monitor the complaints,” Minister Neog added.