Provide relief to Covid orphans: SC to States

Covid-19 Education

Maharashtra joins the list of states who have proposed sponsorship for children who lost their parents to Covid.

Mumbai: The Supreme Court has directed states to provide immediate relief to children who have been orphaned due to the pandemic. The court direction came in response to an application filed by amicus curiae Gaurav Agarwal seeking identification of orphaned children.    

The Ministry of Women and Child Development had released a report on May 25 stating that 577 children across the country had been orphaned in the past 55 days by the second wave.

The Minister of School Education in Maharashtra, Varsha Gaikwad, in a statement, said, “Covid-19 pandemic has caused havoc all around. But it has been particularly devastating for children who have lost their parents to the dreaded virus.” She added that a proposal has been submitted to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray suggesting that the state bear the cost and responsibility for these children and offer free education up to the 12th standard.    

Maharashtra had previously set up a 10-member task force in each of the 36 districts in the state to identify the children who were orphaned due to the pandemic.

Sriekala Nair, a high school teacher, said, “It is a considerate move both by the Supreme Court and the state.” She added, “The least that can be done is to provide financial relief towards education to these grieving children since no emotional relief can be provided to such times of loss.”    

“One of my classmates recently lost his father to the disease. His father was the only earning member of his family and his mother is a homemaker,” said Anuj, a class 11 student. “Their family is under tremendous pain and pressure,” he added.

“We have had students who have informed us about losing their parents to Covid,” said Seema Maindirata, an educationist and school principal in Mumbai. “It is unthinkable to imagine the trauma and difficulties of such children. Providing relief, at however much a scale, should be considered nationally, and not just in the state,” she observed.

Other states providing covid relief

The Kerala government announced a relief package of Rs. 3 lakh and free education till graduation for children who lost both parents due to covid-19. The state will also give Rs. 2,000 per month till the child turns 18.   
The Andhra Pradesh government has announced an Rs. 10 lakh fixed deposit for children who have lost their parents in the pandemic. The government has also set up child care institutions and residential schools in all of its 32 districts to look after the orphaned children.

The Uttarakhand government had previously announced Mukhyamantri Vatsalaya Yojana for the children orphaned due to covid. Under the scheme, the government would give these children Rs. 3000 per month till they reach the age of 21. The government would also make arrangements for their education and provide a five percent reservation for them in Uttarakhand government jobs