COVID-19: Over 75,000 Indian kids lost at least one parent, apex court told

Haanvi Reddy and her siblings lost their parents to COVID-19 in Hyderabad city in Telangana state. Image Credit: NYT

New Delhi: The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has informed the Supreme Court that more than 75,000 children have either lost one parent or became an orphan during the COVID-19 pandemic and are in need of care and protection.

In an additional affidavit, the child rights body said the number of children who have lost either their mother or father or both parents between April 1, 2020, to July 23, 2021, is based upon the information uploaded on “Bal Swaraj” portal up to July 23.

The child rights body said total of 75,320 children have become orphans or lost either parent amid the pandemic, and this also includes 247 children, who were abandoned.

It said that of all the children affected due to the pandemic, those in the age group 8-13 years were the highest, at 29,886.

Elaborating on data collected from various states, the NCPCR said in Maharashtra, 13,589 children were affected, followed by Odisha 6,562 and Andhra Pradesh 6,210.

The affidavit said: “In some cases, while examining the data, the Commission has observed that the schemes/benefits being given to the child or his/her family were inadequate and the Commission observed that there could be other government implemented schemes under which the child or his family/guardian could get benefits.”

The NCPCR said it is presently in the process of examining data, which has been uploaded by the states/UTs on the Bal Swaraj portal for purpose of ensuring that all benefits for which each child is entitled are being given adequately.

“Wherever there is some discrepancy or lacunae being identified by the NCPCR, a letter is being issued to the concerned district authority to rectify the discrepancy and to ensure care and protection to the child,” it said in the affidavit.

The child rights body said that it is pertinent to mention, until and unless the individual childcare plan of each child is prepared and orders of the Child Welfare Committee are passed, the clear picture regarding needs and requirements of these children are difficult to examine.

The affidavit was submitted in the suo motu case taken up by the top court in connection with spread of Covid-19 in children protection homes. The case was initiated in March 2020, and in this year, amid the second wave, the top court took note of the issue of children who became orphans during the pandemic. It has appointed advocate Gaurav Agarwal as amicus curiae in the matter.