Some states have made attempts to battle the paucity of funds, but West Bengal is yet to set the stage for the Act to be implemented.
Over a year after the Act came into force in October 2006, the Centre and the states are yet to work out the funds allocation. So far, the West Bengal Government has released funds only on an ad hoc basis.
The funds crisis was the refrain of all participants in the workshop on PWDVA organised by the Lawyers Collective, National Commission for Women and the West Bengal Commission for Women.
“We have been lobbying for a reasonable allocation of funds for the implementation of this Act,” said Malini Bhattacharya, member of the National Commission for Women. The NCW wants the Planning Commission to create a corpus fund to implement the Act.
Law minister Rabilal Moitra admitted that lack of infrastructure has crippled the implementation of the Act. It is also a hurdle for recruitment.
Even if the states have appointed a “Protection Officer” (PO), there is no infrastructure to enable the POs to perform their task. A PO has to be supported by assistants. She should be provided with at least a vehicle and an office from where she can operate. Even “service providers” like registered NGOs are entitled to an honorarium, which has to be borne by the governments — the Centre and the state. The state, though, has plans to create separate posts for POs to be appointed on contract basis with a monthly salary of Rs 10,000.
Jasodhara Bagchi, chairperson of the West Bengal Commission for Women, shot off a question to a state government representative. “We have given our recommendations to the NWC to raise the question of funds with the Planning Commission. We (state women commission) have done our homework. Have you done yours?” she asked.