Raipur, May 22, 2014 -- National child helpline number 1098 of ChildLine India Foundation (CIF) may have been launched in Chhattisgarh's seven districts for aid of needy children but it is limited only to BSNL callers, seriously limiting its reach.
Service is barred for other private telecom operators or they occasionally route through Mumbai central call centre which is then connected to Raipur. This could be a pointless exercise in case of emergency where timely help is quintessential.
While 1098 is a round the clock toll-free emergency number, TOI found that even BSNL numbers go unanswered especially during night. Talking to TOI, CIF Chhattisgarh in charge Kalol Choudhary, based in Kolkata, said, "The problem persists due to technical faults and zonal problems of telephone circle. While talks with other service providers are underway, callers in Chhattisgarh access the facility within 2-3 months."
Talking to TOI, NGO Shaktivahini's representative Rishikant said that loss of even five minutes may cause loss of life. "A child in need of care and protection is a priority task. Though a similar practice of routing was being followed in Gurgaon, with initiatives by district childline they got direct access for all service providers," Rishikant said.
District childline co-ordinator HL Nayak told TOI that Childline is active in Durg, Rajnandgaon, Jashpur, Raigarh, Jagdalpur, Bilaspur and Raipur. "While Raipur receives maximum calls, it's also a route centre for parts of west Madhya Pradesh."
Moreover, awareness about Childline is low compared to the number of incidents that take place against children including cases of child trafficking, abuse, child labour, conflicts, mental problem, addictions etc.
Nayak said that there is an urgent need for spreading awareness through wall writing, posters on school buses, railway stations, audio advertisement at theatres, posters in trains, bus stops and autos. "Apart from easy access to 1098, they need to know that such a helpline number exists. We have been in touch with the concerned departments for collaboration but they also have their own set of rules and regulations to implement our initiatives," he said.
Childline works in coordination with Sankalp Sanskritik Samiti (SSS) which works in association with the Ministry of Women & Child Welfare, Government of India and CIF. Childline- Raipur receives more than 350 calls per month from children and adults in need.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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