More Than 30K Children In India Orphaned During Pandemic, Says Child Rights Body

·3-min read

Children belonging to more than 30,000 familie across the country were orphaned--they lost both or one of their parents--or were abandoned between April 2020 and last week, according to the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).

These figures have been collated by the national child rights body from statistics loaded by various states and Union Territories on the NCPCR’s newly-launched Bal Swaraj portal. The NCPCR has submitted these figures in an affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court.

Between 1 April last year (2020) and 5 June this year (2021), 3621 children lost both their parents, 26,176 lost either parent, and 274 were abandoned.

Of them, 15,620 are boys, 14,447 are girls and four are transgenders. More than 11,800 children are in the age group of 8 to 13 years and, thus, require urgent care. About 10,247 are between 14 and 18 years of age.

The NCPCR statistics do not, however, specify if the parents of these children succumbed to the Covid virus or died due to other causes or ailments.

Most of the 30,000-odd children are staying in their homes with their single parent, guardian or family member, and 819 are lodged in children's homes (including observation homes and shelter homes), 41 in orphanages and 62 are with special adoption agencies.

Maharashtra recorded the highest number with 217 children orphaned and over 6800 losing either parent. Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan recorded high numbers of orphans at 706 and 671 respectively.

A Supreme Court bench comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Aniruddha Bose is hearing a suo motu petition on steps taken to contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus in child care homes.

The apex court had appointed advocate Gaurav Agarwal as amicus curiae to assist the court in this.

The NCPCR had filed an affidavit on May 31 stating that 1742 children had lost both parents, 7464 lost one parent and 140 were abandoned between March last year and May 29 this year. But those figures were incomplete since many states and UTs had not loaded their respective datas on the NCPCR portal.

Agrawal has submitted some suggestions on protecting property rights of these children. Orphans or children in need of care and protection should be produced before the Child Welfare Committees (CWC) which can assess the financial capacity of the family or guardian and award an amount of ₹5,000 per child as financial assistance, said Agarwal.

Late last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the launch of a special assistance programme for children who had lost either or both parents, or their guardians or adoptive parents, to the pandemic.

Under this scheme, the ‘PM-CARES For Children’ will contribute through a specially designed scheme to create a corpus of Rs 10 lakh for each child when he or she reaches 18 years of age.

This corpus will be used to give monthly financial support or stipend, through a fixed deposit in the name of the child, from 18 years of age for the next five years to take care of his or her personal requirements during the period of higher education.

On reaching the age of 23 years, he or she will get the corpus amount as one lump-sum for personal and professional use.

The scheme will also provide free education and the children will be enrolled as beneficiaries under the Ayushman Bharat Scheme with a health insurance cover of Rs 5 lakh.

Many states have also announced their own schemes for such bereaved children.

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