PTI reports NCPCR has informed the Supreme Court that as many as 1.32 lakh children in the country have lost either of their parents since April of last year during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Over 9,800 children have been orphaned, 508 abandoned and 1.32 lakh have lost either of their parents between April last year to December 7 this year during the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has told the Supreme Court.

The child rights’ body has given the crucial information in an affidavit to the apex court which is hearing a suo motu case about children who have been adversely affected by the pandemic, by losing either one or both their parents.

The NCPCR, referring to the data uploaded on the Baal Swaraj Portal-COVID care, said that from April, 2020 onwards and up to December 7, 2021, 9,855 children have been orphaned, 1,32,113 children have lost either of their parents and 508 children have been abandoned.

It said that 1,529 kids are in children’s homes, 19 in open shelter homes, two in observation homes, 188 in orphanages, 66 in special adoption agencies and 39 in hostels.

Giving the state-wise details of children who lost either their mother or father or both parents to COVID and other reasons since April 2020, the Commission said .,

That the maximum number of such children are from Odisha (24,405), followed by Maharashtra (19,623), Gujarat (14,770), Tamil Nadu (11,014), Uttar Pradesh (9,247), Andhra Pradesh (8,760), Madhya Pradesh (7,340), West Bengal (6,835) Delhi (6,629) and Rajasthan (6,827).

The Commission said that it is taking steps to ensure that children should not be or are less adversely affected in the pandemic.

In this context, NCPCR has been conducting virtual meetings with state commissions for protection of child rights of each States/UTs to know the updated status of preparedness in the event of a third wave of COVID pandemic, if at all such a wave comes, it said.

The Commission informed the top court that it has been conducting zone-wise meetings with SCPCRs of each state/UT and a virtual meeting with North-East states is scheduled to be held on January 19.

The discussions with the SCPCRs are being done to take an updated status of health care facilities, institutions for Children-schools/residential educational institutions, child care institutions, children in street situations and status of implementation of court’s order, it said.

“A total of 7,499 letters to district authorities for completion of incomplete data for removing discrepancies of the portal of the children” it said 

The commission, in the said letters, based on the individual child care plan of the child, had made its recommendations to district authorities for linking the child and his/her family with schemes/benefits as well so that timely financial assistance is also provided to the child and the family,” the affidavit said.

A bench headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao on Monday said the process of identifying “children in street situations”, adversely hit by the pandemic, is at a “very slow pace” and directed the states and union territories (UTs) to take immediate steps to identify such children and rehabilitate them without waiting for its directions.

The bench, also comprising Justice B R Gavai, said that there might be “lakhs of children in street situation” in the country.