The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has informed the Supreme Court that a total of 1,47,492 children since April 1, 2020, have lost either their mother or father or both parents due to COVID-19 and other reasons. The Commission has said that the maximum number of such children is from Odisha where the figures are 24,405.
Giving the details in a suo motu matter on children in need of care and protection due to loss of parents during the COVID-19 pandemic, the national child rights watchdog said its figures are based on data uploaded by States and Union Territories on its 'Baal Swaraj Portal-COVID care' up to January 11, 2022.
That it is most humbly reiterated that the data of children uploaded on the 'Baal Swaraj Portal-COVID care' by the States/UTs comprises of both categories of children, wherein the child has lost both or either of the parent to COVID-19 disease or otherwise from April 2020 onwards, the affidavit filed through advocate Swarupama Chaturvedi said.
The Commission said the data uploaded up to January 11 showed the status of children in need of care and protection included orphans (10,094), lost either parent (1,36,910) and abandoned (488) taking the total to 1,47,492.
In the gender-wise break-up, the commission said, out of the 1,47,492 children, there are 76,508 boys, 70,980 girls and four transgender.
It said that the maximum number of children are between the age group of eight to 13 years (59,010), followed by children in the age group of 14 to 15 years (22,763) and age group of 16 to 18 years (22,626) and four to seven years (26,080).
The Commission also gave the current status of shelter of children and said that maximum of such children are with their single parent -1,25,205, while 11,272 children are with family members, followed by 8,450 with guardians.
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.
Among all States, the highest 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 apex court that it has been conducting zone-wise meetings with SCPCRs of each state/UT and a virtual meeting wih 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.