30,000 children orphaned, abandoned or in other distress amid Covid, SC told
The National Commission for Protection of Children's Rights (NCPCR) told the Supreme Court that as many as 3,621 children were orphaned, 274 were found abandoned and 26,176 lost either parent since April 1, 2020 and June 5, 2021, amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
The child rights panel, in an affidavit, said it is presenting the number of children who have lost either their mother or father or both parents, based upon the information uploaded on "Bal Swaraj" portal up to June 5. It said there are 30,071 children, who need care and protection, after collecting data from the states and Union Territories, on the portal.
Among the states, Maharashtra recorded highest number (7,084) children under distress, which included 217 children who became orphans, 6,865 who have lost either of their parents and two were abandoned.
In Uttar Pradesh, there were 3,172 children, followed by Rajasthan with 2,482 children, who have either orphaned or lost either parent during the Covid-19 pandemic. In Madhya Pradesh, 706 children were orphaned, and 226 children were abandoned during the pandemic.
In Karnataka, 99 children were orphaned, and six were found abandoned during this period, while 555 kids lost a parent. In Delhi, five children were orphaned and 12 lost a parent amid the pandemic.
The commission's response came on a direction issued by the top court seeking information on status of children amid the pandemic. "The Commission is also concerned to note that several NGOs are seeking monetary support in the name of children impacted by Covid. However, there is no disclosure to authorities regarding actual beneficiaries, as mandated under the JJ Act, 2015," it said in the affidavit.
The commission said considering that the children in distress situations are wards of state, it is imperative for all concerned to immediately inform the statutory authority about any such child noticed by them
It urged the top court to direct the NGOs, if they find a child in need of care and protection, then state/district authorities must be alerted in consonance with the government's instructions to states.
"It is most humbly submitted that the states/UTs may be directed to create State Juvenile Justice Fund under Section 105 of JJ Act, 2015 and the bank account details, name of the account holder, IFSC code and other such requisite details of State Juvenile Justice Fund or any other fund created under Section 105 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015," the NCPCR affidavit said, adding that the identity of the child must not be disclosed.
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