A total of 3,890 Covid orphans have been registered with the Ministry of Women and Child Development, as of February 5. This is according to the response to a parliament query.
However, while answering another question in the parliament on February 2, the Ministry had said that the number was 3,855.
At the same time, according to the National Commission for Protection of Child's Rights (NCPCR), 3,661 children were orphaned between April 2020 and June 2021. While the first and second waves of Covid peaked during this period, it is unclear on how many of these children were actually orphaned due to the pandemic. However, a study published in The Lancet said that as many as 1.19 lakh children in India lost their primary caregiver (parent or custodial grandparent) due to Covid-19. This was at around the same time as when the NCPCR submitted its report.
Going by these numbers, it maybe assumed that a large number of children were orphaned during the second wave of the pandemic, when the country saw as many as 4,529 deaths in a day.
However, during the third wave, while more people got infected, the daily death toll was almost a fifth of what we saw during the second wave. The highest death toll in the country during the third wave was on February 6, when 1,773 people lost their lives.
The WCD Ministry’s figures are based on the applications approved on the pmcaresforchildren.in portal. The portal was started earlier in 2021, to register the details of children who have lost both parents, or their lone surviving parent, or their legal guardian or adoptive parent due to Covid-19.
While the portal had received 6,624 applications as of January 31, 2022, only 58 per cent of them were approved. The maximum number of applications were received from Maharashtra — 1,158. Of them, 712 were approved. Maharashtra is also the state that saw the maximum number of deaths owing to the pandemic. As of February 10, a total of 1,43,247 lost their lives in the state.
When the portal was launched in May 2021, the WCD Ministry said that it had identified around 577 Covid orphans. The number rose to 845 in October, 3,049 in December and to 3,890 in February.
As a part of PM-CARES for Children, when a child orphaned in the pandemic turns 18, he or she will draw a monthly stipend from the corpus of ₹10 lakh in order to meet expenses for personal needs and higher education. On reaching 23, the child will get the entire ₹10 lakh, according to an official statement.