March 25, 2023

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Lancet article Sophisticated Trickery Intended to Create Panic Among Citizens, Divorced From Truth And Ground Reality: Ministry Of Women And Child Development

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New Delhi, March 2, 2022: The Ministry of Women and Child Development finds the Lancet article dated February 24, 2022 giving estimates of children affected by Covid-19 associated orphanhood very surprising and contrary to field data in this regard. Lancet has reported that more than 19 Lakh children have lost their primary caregivers due to covid in India. There is no doubt that the researchers have used sophisticated methodology to estimate the numbers about children, who have lost their primary caregivers, but these findings have no correlation with ground reality in India as reflected from field findings. As per field data coming from the States/UTs and being compiled as per the directions and monitoring of SC, the numbers for India are about 1.53 Lakhs.

Supreme Court of India in SMWP no. 4/2021 had directed all the States/UTs to identify each and every child who has lost one or more of their parents or have been abandoned during Covid due to any reason (Covid or otherwise) during the pandemic period. The loss of parent could have been due to Covid, natural, unnatural, or from any other cause during the period of pandemic. National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) furtherance to its function as a monitoring authority under section 109 of the Juvenile Justice Act, was asked to set up a portal called “Bal Swaraj” where this data has to be uploaded. Accordingly, NCPCR has been continuously tracking all the children who have lost their parents (either one or both) due to any reason and children who have been abandoned since 1st April, 2020. The data/information of each child is captured, verified and examined so as to extend proper care, protection and benefits to all such children. So far, 1,53,827 children have been registered on the portal including 1,42,949 children with single parent, 492 abandoned children and 10,386 children who have lost both their parents. Annexure-I shows State/UT wise breakup of these figures as on 15th February, 2022.

All States/UTs have been directed to upload the data of all such children on the portal. NCPCR examines the data being filed on the portal and necessary communications are established with the district and State level authorities on regular basis. In compliance to the judgement of Supreme Court, NCPCR also files affidavits on regular basis to update the Court. The Commission has made certain recommendations for the State Government and the other relevant authorities to ensure the welfare and well-being of children.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on 29th May, 2021, had announced comprehensive support for children who have lost both their parents due to COVID 19 pandemic. The objective of the scheme is to ensure comprehensive care and protection of children who have lost their parent(s) to COVID pandemic, in a sustained manner, enable their wellbeing through health insurance, empower them through education and equip them for self-sufficient existence with financial support on reaching 23 years of age. All eligible children can be enrolled till 28th February, 2022 to avail benefits of PM CARES for Children Scheme. The scheme covers all children who have lost: i) Both parents or ii) Surviving parent or iii) legal guardian/adoptive parents/single adoptive parent due to COVID 19 pandemic, starting from 11.03.2020 the date on which WHO has declared and characterized COVID-19 as pandemic till 28.02.2022. To be entitled to benefits under this scheme, the child should not have completed 18 years of age on the date of death of parents.

The PM CARES for children scheme inter-alia provides support to these children through convergent approach, gap funding for ensuring education, health, monthly stipend from the age of 18 years, and lump sum amount of Rs. 10 lakhs on attaining 23 years of age. So far, 4196 children have been identified and approved for obtaining the benefits of PM Cares for Children Scheme.

Annexure-I

Details of Children who have lost their Parents or Guardians due to COVID or any other cause

State/UTOrphanSingle ParentAbandonedTotal
Andaman & Nicobar Islands72670274
Andhra Pradesh418844548867
Arunchal Pradesh413560397
Assam160191812079
Bihar313200202315
Chandigarh121450157
Chhattisgarh15631810484
Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu163120328
Delhi318643816757
Goa876084
Gujarat121013724014934
Haryana127358233712
Himachal Pradesh152307433229
Jammu & Kashmir236370660
Jharkhand141131921462
Karnataka5734512135098
Kerala1133673293815
Ladakh21120114
Lakshadweep171072
Madhya Pradesh179455093597662
Maharashtra71819707420429
Manipur202613284
Meghalaya181116135
Mizoram131400153
Nagaland91425156
Odisha161724697426318
Puducherry123770389
Punjab71137701448
Rajasthan7146098186830
Sikkim036036
Tamil Nadu33911567211908
Telangana253204412298
Tripura1745163
Uttar Pradesh55497481510317
Uttarakhand156356803724
West Bengal290654186839
Total10386142949492153827

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