The Bihar government has cancelled the selection of 50 non-governmental organisations to run shelter homes in the state and announced that the state will run them instead, IANS reported.

“The Social Welfare Department will take over the management [of the shelter homes] in the next three months,” an official of the department said. “Till then the NGOs will continue to run these shelter homes.”

The state government’s decision comes after reports surfaced of at least 34 girls allegedly being raped over the last four years at a shelter home in Muzaffarpur. The sexual exploitation of children in the shelter came to light after Mumbai’s Tata Institute of Social Sciences submitted an audit report of 110 shelter homes in the state in April. Two women reportedly died at the shelter home.

Earlier this month, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had announced that NGOs will not be allowed to run shelter homes in the state, The Times of India had reported. Nearly 100 NGOs continue to run shelters across the state, according to IANS.

A 100-page report by TISS had stated that sexual abuse – varying in forms and degrees – was prevalent in almost all shelter homes in Bihar. The audit was commissioned by the state government in 2017.

The Bihar Police have booked former social welfare minister of the state, Manju Verma, and her husband in connection with the case. Verma had stepped down from her post on August 8 after allegations surfaced about her husband Chandeshwar Verma’s links to Brajesh Thakur, who used to run the shelter.

Thakur has denied links with the minister and claimed that he has been framed in the case for planning to join the Congress. He has, however, admitted that he used to speak to her husband Chandeshwar Verma about “political issues”.