The National Commission of Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) informed Supreme Court that as per the data given by states so far as many as 30,071 children were orphaned, lost a parent or abandoned mostly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the total, 26,176 children have lost a parent, 3,621 have been orphaned and 274 have been abandoned, said the affidavit filed the NCPCR on Monday.
The commission further said that the state-wise data received regarding children who have lost either their mother or father or both parents from April 1, 2020, to June 5, 2021, irrespective of their reason of death (not only death due to COVID-19), was uploaded on its ‘Bal Swaraj‘ portal and collated by it. Maharashtra has been worst affected with 7,084 children being orphaned, abandoned or have lost a parent mostly to the deadly virus since April 1 last year.
The Centre told the Supreme Court that it needed some more time to apprise the Court of the modalities on the recently launched ‘PM-CARES for Children’ scheme for kids orphaned by COVID-19.
In its affidavit filed in the suo motu matter taken up by the apex court, the NCPCR said other states where children are most affected include Uttar Pradesh (3,172), Rajasthan (2,482), Haryana (2,438), Madhya Pradesh (2,243), Andhra Pradesh (2,089), Kerala (2,002), Bihar (1,634) and Odisha (1,073).
The Commission said that in Maharashtra out of the total 7,084 children, 6,865 have lost one parent, 217 have been orphaned and two children have been abandoned, while Madhya Pradesh tops the chart where 226 have been abandoned. The NCPCR said that among the affected, boys are 15,620, girls (14,447) and transgender (4), with most children falling in the category of 8 to 13 years of age (11,815).
It said that children affected between the age group of 0 to 3 years are 2,902, 4-7 years group are 5,107 and 14 to 15 years are 4,908. It said that children affected between 16 to below 18 years are 5,339 in numbers. The Commission clarified that the total data given in the present affidavit includes the data already submitted to the Court till May 29, which said that 9,346 children were abandoned, orphaned or lost a parent mostly to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Centre told the Supreme Court that it needed some more time to apprise the Court of the modalities on the recently launched ‘PM-CARES for Children‘ scheme for kids orphaned by COVID-19. The NCPCR said West Bengal and Delhi have not been cooperating and have not provided the latest data on the number of children who have lost their parents due to Coronavirus. A bench of Justices L N Rao and Aniruddha Bose was informed by Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, appearing for the Centre, that they are in consultation with states and ministries to work out the modalities of the ‘PM-CARES for Children’ scheme.
“We need some more time to apprise the court about the modalities of the scheme as the consultation is still going on. We have made district magistrates directly responsible for the children who have been abandoned or have been orphaned,” Bhati said. The bench said that it is inclined to give some more time to the Centre to formulate the modalities of the scheme and how they will implement it.
Additional Solicitor General K M Nataraj, appearing for NCPCR, told the bench it was facing difficulties with West Bengal and Delhi, who are not uploading the data of such children on ‘Bal Swaraj’.
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