COVID-Linked Orphanhood: Govt Flays Lancet Report, Says Number Is 1.53 Lakh & Not 19 Lakh

New Delhi: The Union government has questioned a very surprising report published in The Lancet journal which stated that more than 19 lakh children lost their primary caregivers due to COVID-19 in India.

“There is no doubt that the researchers have used sophisticated methodology to estimate the numbers about children who have lost their primary caregivers, but these findings have no correlation with ground reality in India as reflected from field findings,” the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development said, adding that the number of COVID-associated orphanhood is about 1.53 lakhs as per field data from states and UTs being compiled as per directions and monitoring of Supreme Court.

All states and UTs were asked to identify each and every child who has lost one or more parent, or have been abandoned during COVID due to any reason (COVID or otherwise) during the pandemic period, the ministry said. The loss of parent could have been due to COVID, natural, unnatural, or from any other cause during the period of pandemic.

“National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) furtherance to its function as a monitoring authority under section 109 of the Juvenile Justice Act, was asked to set up a portal called ‘Bal Swaraj’ where this data has to be uploaded. Accordingly, NCPCR has been continuously tracking all the children who have lost their parents (either one or both) due to any reason and children who have been abandoned since 1st April, 2020. The data/information of each child is captured, verified and examined so as to extend proper care, protection and benefits to all such children,” the ministry elaborated.

Till now, 1,53,827 children have been registered on the portal which includes 1,42,949 children with single parent, 492 abandoned children and 10,386 children who have lost both parents.

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