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Guwahati, March 17 – With an allocation of Rs 200 crore in the Budget, the Assam government on Thursday announced launching the Mission for Prevention of Child Marriage.
While presenting the budget in the assembly, Assam Finance Minister Ajanta Neog said that high maternal and infant mortality rates are major health care issues in this part of the country.
“Child marriage has been one of the prominent reasons for these. The state government has launched a mass drive against the violators of Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (PCMA) 2006 earlier this year. The government is committed to launch this state mission with a target of making Assam free of incidents of child marriage by the end of 2026,” she said.
All Gram Panchayat Secretaries in Assam are being designated as 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.
“Our district police forces will continue to conduct intensive drives every six 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,” Neog added.
Meanwhile, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said: “Every six months, at least 4,000-6,000 people will be arrested. After that, we’re going to launch a mission for the victims’ rehabilitation.”
He also said that a 24-hour phone centre will be established, and several NGOs will promote “positive action against child marriage”.
Sarma made it clear that the state government’s action against child marriage will continue with more vigour.
“This is not communal and we want to approach the issue completely from a humanitarian point of view,” he added.
However, the Opposition was critical about state government’s mission with the Congress leader Debabrata Saikia saying: “The conviction rate on child marriage act is just five per cent.”