Over 9,000 children lost parents to pandemic; but Delhi & Bengal have just 5 & 1 cases despite highest fatality

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New Delhi: The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), in an affidavit, informed Supreme Court on Tuesday that the pandemic has orphaned 1742 children while 7464 children had lost at least one of their parents. At least, 140 have been abandoned from March 2020 to May 29, 2021.

As per NCPCR data, maximum number of orphaned and abandoned children were found to be in Madhya Pradesh, where 318 children were orphaned and 104 were abandoned. Uttar Pradesh recorded the highest number of children who lost one of their parents and number stood at 1,830.

Delhi and Bengal are among the hardest hit states by the Coronavirus and recorded spate of deaths, rather they ranked among the top 5-7 spots in terms of Corona deaths.

Till date, India has seen about 3.35 lakh casualties, out of which 96,198 come from Maharashtra, 29,554 from Karnataka, 24,722 from Tamil Nadu, 24,299 from Delhi, 20,672 from Uttar Pradesh, 15,678 from West Bengal.

But, the minuscule number of children’s registration (in Delhi and Bengal), who lost their parents, raises many questions. If they are not registered under NCPCR’s Bal Swaraj portal, they won’t be able to avail the benefits like free education, free health insurance and a corpus of Rs 10 lakh as announced by Central government.

With Delhi and Bengal logging more than 20,000 deaths and 15,000 respectively, it is difficult to buy this claim that only 5 and 1 children were affected in these states. Such minuscule number in populous states as Delhi and Bengal suggests that government machinery is lagging much behind.

And, this happens despite Delhi CM Kejriwal investing huge sum of money on advertising government schemes for Covid affected families and Mamata asserting that Bengal is on way to recovery. In spite of engaging state machinery into this drive, Bengal CM was more engaged in rhetoric and verbal exchange with Delhi over state’s top babu.

Delhi battled its worst ever pandemic in April and May where the city was gasping for breath while the administration looked clueless. Daily deaths due to oxygen soared to new levels but now there is a fight over counting the dead.

More than 34,750 death certificates were issued by 3 Municipal Corporations in the city during April and May, at a time when 2nd wave at its peak . Though Delhi govt puts the official Covid deaths in these 2 months at 13,201. There could be reasons behind discrepancies in numbers, which officials could explain. In fact, the Municipal bodies claim that this number could go even higher as many may have not applied for deaths certificates due to Covid-19.

The NCPCR also told court that is has created an online tracking portal “Bal Swaraj (COVID-Care link)” for children. The portal will also be used to track children who have lost both their parents during COVID-19. The “COVID-Care” link on the portal has been provided for the concerned officer or department to upload the data of such children.

The “Bal Swaraj-COVID-Care” aims at tracking the children affected by COVID-19 right from their production before the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), to the restoration of the children to their parent, guardian, or relative, and its subsequent follow-up.

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