Maharashtra: 13,197 kids lost one of their parents to Covid
The number of children who lost either of their parents to Covid-19 has mounted to 13,197 in Maharashtra.
While 11,659 of them lost their father, 1,538 lost their mother to the virus. A total of 409 children have been orphaned after losing both the parents, according to the data collected by the women and child welfare department.
Acting on the Supreme Court direction, the state constituted task forces in each district to identify such children and avert trafficking and illegal adoption.
Women and child welfare officers have reached out to families with deaths due to Covid-19 and facilitate them with counselling, legal and financial aid. The process for enrolment of orphaned children whose extended family members are not able to look after them has begun.
Pune has the highest number of children who have lost either or both parents (1,380), followed by Nagpur (1,206), Thane (1,103), Mumbai (762) and Nashik (508). Thane has the highest number of orphaned children (53), followed by 36 in Nagpur and 34 in Pune. Of the orphaned children, 221 are boys and 180 are girls.
WCD minister Yashomati Thakur said: “The task forces appointed under the chairmanship of district collectors are working to help these children with the help of child welfare committee in the districts. We have taken full responsibility of their further studies for which technological support in the form of laptops, android phones is being provided to them as immediate steps. We have signed a memorandum of understanding with two not-for-profit organisations, Indian Psychiatric Society and Project Mumbai, for technological and psychological support.”
Thakur added, “We have already announced ₹5 lakh in fixed deposit accounts of these children till they turn 18. Until then, financial aid will be given to children under Balsangopan Yojana.”
District administrations have been helping such children with counselling, fixing responsibility of their parenting to relatives, as well as ensuring financial aid, custody to child care institutions and legal adoption, if needed.
“As the basic principle of the Juvenile Justice Act (JJ Act), we prefer the custody to remain with extended family in case of orphaned children. Family care is important for their upbringing. Such children in custody with relatives, such as uncle or grandparents, are given financial assistance of ₹1,125 per month under our Bal Sangopan scheme. The scheme is applicable for the children who have lost either of their parents,” said an official from the department.
According to the officials from the department, the number of children who have lost their parents to Covid-19 is expected to go up further.