As many as 577 children across the country were orphaned after their parents succumbed to COVID-19, Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani said citing reports of states and union territories from April 1 till Tuesday.
She also said that the government is committed to support and protect every vulnerable child who lost both parents to Covid. “GOI (government of India) is committed to support and protect every vulnerable child due to loss of both parents to Covid-19.
From April 1 2021 till 2:00 pm today, the state governments and UTs across the country have reported 577 children whose parents succumbed to Covid-19,” Irani said in a tweet.
Asserting that these children are not abandoned and are under the watch and protection of district authorities, sources said that if such children need counselling a team at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) is ready. They said that there is no shortage of funds for ensuring the welfare of these children.
“The Centre is in constant touch with states and districts about these children. There is no shortage of funds for their welfare. The women and child development ministry has held meetings with all stakeholders, including the UNICEF,” a source said.
It is “unfortunate and painful” that when the women and child development (WCD) ministry approached renowned activists who were talking about Covid orphans, they gave no details till date about the children orphaned due to the pandemic, the sources said.
Free education for COVID orphans
Earlier on May 20, Indian National Congress president Sonia Gandhi wrote to prime minister Narendra Modi to provide free education to children orphaned during the COVID-19 pandemic. Apprising Modi about the situation, Gandhi highlighted that several young children have lost one or both parents to COVID-19. “These children are left with the trauma of loss and no support towards a stable education or future,” she said.
Gandhi also asked PM Modi consider providing free education at the Navodaya Vidhyalayas to such children.“I feel that as a nation, we owe it to them to give them hope for a robust future after the unimaginable tragedy that has befallen them,” Gandhi wrote.