COVID-19 threat
A relative comforts wailing son of a person who died of COVID-19, at a crematorium in Srinagar, India. Image Credit: AP

New Delhi: More than 147,492 children have lost their parents mostly due to COVID-19 since April 1, 2020, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) data showed.

After including 10,094 orphans in need of care and protection, a total of 136,910 children lost their parents, 488 were abandoned, pushing the total to 147,492, the Commission told Supreme Court on the basis of data uploaded by states and union territories on its ‘Baal Swaraj Portal-COVID care’ up to January 11.

The commission said that of the 147,492 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 (22,763) and age group of 16 to 18 years (22,626) and four to seven years (26,080).

“Maximum of the 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.

In the backdrop of the pandemic, the Supreme Court on Monday directed all district magistrates (DMs) to engage with District Legal Service Authority (DLSA), and voluntary organisations to rehabilitate children in street situations. A bench comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao and B.V. Nagarathna said: “we direct all DMs to involve DLSA and voluntary organisations in the identification of children on streets without any further delay”.

The bench added that immediate steps are required to provide shelter to children in street situations by the central government and state governments.

It emphasised that children should be shifted to shelter homes and also directed the DMs to upload the information at all stages on the web portal of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).

The bench further added that state governments and union territories (UTs) should engage with authorities concerned to identify and rehabilitate children, without any further delay.