There are many children in the country who have become orphans in the last year due to the Covid pandemic. The kids who have lost their both parents are in a state of mental stress and deep sorrow as no one can provide them with every possible facility like their parents did because no one in this world can fulfil their wishes as their parents did.
Among these orphan children, the worst is those children who belong to a low household income source and whose parents were working in the unorganized sector. As a result, many children have gone into a state of starvation with no proper guidelines for them from the administration and the government.
Amicus Curiae Gaurav Agarwal filed a petition in the supreme court to bring the problem of children who became orphan due to covid pandemic in government top priority.
Responding to which, a bench of Justice L Nageshwar Rao and Justice Anirudh Bose, gave the order to the central government and the respective state governments to identify those children (Covid orphans) as soon as possible and provide them with adequate support and care by taking appropriate steps.
In its judgment, the bench also gave direction to the district administration to take adequate steps for the welfare of orphaned children as soon as possible and do not wait for higher authorities order.
Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, representing the central government, told the court that district administrations had been already tasked with this action. She also added that NCPCR (National Commission For Protection Of Child Rights) had developed Bal Swaraj portal that identifies the children who have lost their parents in the pandemic, and a separate password has been given to district officials so that they can upload the information of orphans on the portal.
Since the Supreme Court bench had ordered the district authorities to upload the information of children before 29th May, the data uploaded on the portal shows that there are a total of 9,346 children who need care and protection.
Of these, children who have lost either of their parents are 7,464, and those who have been orphaned and abandoned are 1,742 and 140, respectively. The portal also shows that a total of 3,711 children aged between 8 and 13 are the ones who require immediate help. The NCPCR also mentioned that uploading data on the Bal Swarajya portal was an ongoing process.
But the main concern is will the Bal Swaraj portal give detailed and appropriate information about all orphan children? There are many cases where people are neither literate enough nor socially aware to provide relevant details on orphaned children to the government.
Also, there are instances where due to irresponsible behaviour of administration, exact figures are unknown. The condition is more severe in the case of orphan girls because there is the common threat of human trafficking and child labour.
The crime rate against children is also increasing year on year, as shown by NCRB (National Crime Record Bureau) data. This data also indicates that the administration and government should take appropriate steps for their welfare.
The Supreme Court verdict on the petition will only be implemented better if there is regular monitoring of orphaned children at the district administration level. Regular updates on orphaned children on the portal and at the government ministry and a dedicated team at the district level should look after the welfare of the orphan children. Otherwise, like any other case in our country, social welfare schemes will only be functional in government files, but the actual beneficiary of these schemes will not get any help from it.