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Does UP have the highest number of children affected by pandemic? Here is what we know

West Bengal and Delhi did not upload complete information of children who orphaned, abandoned or lost a parent during Covid-19 pandemic

On June 2, lawyer and former civil servant Abha Singh said in a tweet that Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of children affected by the pandemic. While quoting NCPCR’s submission in court, she said, “Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of children affected by the pandemic. NCPCR has told the Supreme Court. 270 orphaned, ten abandoned and 1830 who lost a parent to #COVID19.” She further promoted her NGO, RannSamar Foundation and said that it could help the affected children.

While she quoted NCPCR to claim that UP has the highest number of Covid affected children, the head of the organisation has denied making any such claim. Priyank Kanoongo, chairperson, National Commission for Protection Of Child Rights (NCPCR), Government of India, rebutted her claims about Uttar Pradesh having the maximum number of children affected Covid. He said, “The states like West Bengal and Delhi have not given proper information, and you are hiding the truth.”

The union govt and several state govts have recently launched schemes to help the children affected by the pandemic, and it is expected that the number of beneficiaries under this scheme will be available soon. After the beneficiaries are identified, it will be known which state has the highest number of children affected by the pandemic.

But it is notable that UP has reported around 20000 deaths due to Covid-19, and it is fifth in terms of deaths in the states. Maharashtra has seen almost 1 lakh deaths, and more people have died in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Delhi than Uttar Pradesh from Covid-19. Therefore, it is unlikely that UP will have highest number of children affected by the disease when more people have died in other states. Most probably, Maharashtra will have the highest number of such children, given that the state’s deaths are much more than any other state, and accounts for almost 30% of total deaths in the country.

NCPCR launched a portal for tracking children orphaned during Covid

According to the affidavit submitted by NCPCR in Supreme Court, they have created an online tracking portal, “Baal Swaraj”, to track and monitor children between the age of zero and 17 orphaned during the Covid-19 pandemic since March 2020. NCPCR told the apex court that these children are at high risk of being pushed into trafficking and flesh trade. They have received several complaints of government authorities illegally transferring details to private entities and NGOs.

Baal Swaraj portal by NCPCR

The district authorities were directed to upload the information of such children on the portal Baal Swaraj before May 29. As per the data uploaded on the portal, 9,346 children need care and protection. Out of these, 7,464 have lost either of the parents, 1,742 have lost both parents and 140 were abandoned. A total of 3,711 children are aged between eight and thirteen years.

In the statewide data, UP listed 2,110 children, Tamil Nadu reported 159, Kerala 952, Maharashtra 796, Bihar, 1,327, Karnataka 36, Andhra Pradesh 116, Jammu and Kashmir 375, Gujarat 434 and Haryana reported 776 children orphaned, abandoned or lost a parent.

Therefore, it can be said that UP has uploaded the details of the highest number of children affected by Covid-19, it does not mean the state has the highest number of such children. It is only a matrix of data uploaded by the states. It has to be noted that the data is accessible to concerned authorities only. Public view is not permitted on Baal Swaraj Portal.

Incomplete data reported by WB and Delhi

West Bengal government under Mamata Banerjee and Delhi government under Arvind Kejariwal uploaded details of only one and five children to the portal, respectively. Referring to the lower number of children by these two states, Kanoongo said in the tweet that the numbers are misleading. The commission said that the data on the portal would be updated periodically.

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Staff reporter at OpIndia

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