MP announces free education for children orphaned due to COVID-19
The Madhya Pradesh government will provide free education and a pension of Rs. 5,000 per month to children whose parents died of COVID-19, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said on Thursday. Assuring that the Madhya Pradesh government will stand by the children of the state, the CM said those who lost their earning members during the coronavirus pandemic will be taken care of.
The CM said besides free education, orphaned children will also be provided free ration even if they are not eligible for it. He noted that some elderly people have also been left alone as those taking care of them died of COVID-19. "Our government will stand by such children and families and provide Rs. 5,000 pension per month to them," he added.
Noting the families' losses, the CM said, "We can't leave such persons alone. They are now the responsibility of the Madhya Pradesh government." Home Minister Narottam Mishra claimed Madhya Pradesh is the country's first state to start such a scheme for children and aged people. The CM also said the state government will act as guarantor for those availing interest-free loans to start businesses.
To address the needs of children who have lost their parents in the pandemic, the Karnataka government has also appointed a nodal officer, KP Mohan Raj, to ensure that they receive immediate and long-term assistance. IAS officer Uma Mahadevan has also been asked to streamline donations from the private sector, NGOs and NRIs, so that they may be utilized in COVID-19 management efforts.
Aravind Agrawal, Odisha's Director for Integrated Child Development Services and Social Welfare, wrote to District Collectors on May 7 to immediately identify at least one child-care institution in their districts as a suitable facility to support children whose parents were hospitalized due to COVID-19. A notice may be issued in the local language to guide people regarding the rehabilitation of orphaned children, he added.
The Uttar Pradesh department of Women and Child Development has written to all District Magistrates to prepare a list of children who have lost their parents to COVID-19. The list has to be submitted by May 15 to the Director (Women Welfare) and the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights to facilitate immediate assistance to them, a senior government official told Hindustan Times.
Meanwhile, messages portraying allegedly abandoned children and urging for their adoption are being widely circulated on social media. Activists warned such posts are illegal under provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act, which prohibits offering/receiving children outside the processes laid down under the Act. Such acts are punishable with three to five years in jail or Rs. 1 lakh in fine.
Children orphaned during the course of the pandemic are also at risk of falling prey to human traffickers or illegal adoption rackets. On May 3, Chairperson Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Anurag Kundu, wrote to Delhi Police Commissioner SN Shrivastava flagging such online posts as possible cases of trafficking and requesting for a probe in this regard.
*IMPORTANT Thread*— Smriti Z Irani (@smritiirani) May 4, 2021
If you come to know of any child who has lost both parents to COVID and has no one to take care of her/him, inform Police or Child Welfare Committee of your district or contact Childline 1098. It is your legal responsibility.