'Taking all steps to safeguard...': Centre on children affected by Covid-19
The Ministry of Woman and Child Development on Monday informed the Delhi high court it is taking all steps to safeguard the best interest of children affected by the coronavirus pandemic, adding it has written to states and Union territories (UTs) seeking immediate rehabilitation of the orphaned children.
The ministry was responding to a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Jeetender Gupta, a advocated on record in the Supreme Court. In his PIL, Gupta sought directions to authorities to provide the interim custody of orphaned children to their nearest relatives, or child care homes, while protecting their identity.
"D.O. letter dated 30.04.2021 by secretary, MWCD was sent to chief secretaries with request to district magistrates in all the districts to ensure immediate action of rehabilitation of children orphaned due to Covid-19. Information about the child may be shared with child helpline 1098," the ministry mentioned in its affidavit in the high court.
It further stated children under distress are mandated care and protection under the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act, 2015, which, it said, has to be implemented by states and UTs. "Child Protection Services, a centrally-sponsored scheme, is already being implemented to provide financial support to states and UTs for delivering services under the JJ Act," the affidavit said.
The ministry also mentioned national initiative "SAMVAD," which stands for "Support, Advocacy and Mental Health interventions for children in Vulnerable Circumstances and Distress," as well as a 24x7 number for emergency outreach, as steps taken by it to support the psychosocial and mental health of children impacted by the pandemic. It also said states and UTs were asked to issue public notices in local languages over issues requiring lawful course of action in case of orphaned children.
In May, prime minister Narendra Modi announced children, who lost both parents due to Covid-19, will be supported under the "PM Cares for Children" scheme. Under this initiative, such children will receive a monthly stipend upon turning 18, and a fund of ₹10 lakh when they are 23.
(With PTI inputs)