The Supreme Court -- which has tasked the Centre and states with protection of children orphaned by Covid -- sought details of the scheme announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in this regard today. The court has also asked the Centre to submit details on identification of beneficiaries, mechanism for monitoring the scheme and other related issues.
The court, which took up the issue suo motu while hearing a case about Covid outbreak at childcare homes, will hear the case again on June 7.
Several states, including Delhi and Kerala, had already announced schemes for such children.
The Central government stepped in on Saturday, announcing that it would bear the cost of these children's education and hand them a corpus of Rs 10 lakh when they reach the age of 23 years.
On Saturday, as his government was about to complete two years in power in its second term -- PM Modi had announced the welfare measures for children. The scheme, he said, will be funded by the PM Cares Fund.
In a statement, the Prime Minister's Office said those between 11-18 years of age will be given admission in any central government-run residential school or their fees will be paid.
Also, fixed deposits will be opened in the names of such children and they will receive the money when they turn 23.
At least 577 children across the country have been orphaned by COVID-19 between April 1 and May 25, Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani has said, citing reports of states and Union Territories.
Flagging the issue, a bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and Aniruddha Bose had said last week: "The Covid pandemic has created an unprecedented situation and has a cascading effect on vulnerable children. Authorities must identify children who were orphaned due to the pandemic or otherwise and take steps to address their basic needs,"
The bench had asked the state authorities to take care of the children's needs like food, shelter, and clothing "without waiting for an official order from this court". It also asked the states to collate information on children who have been orphaned since March 2020 and upload it on the portal of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights.
Today, the court again asked the states to upload the information on the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights portal as some states are yet to do so.
The NCPCR informed court that till now, 9,346 children have been orphaned because of Covid. The figure includes 1,742 children who have lost both parents, 7,464 children are in a single-parent household and 140 have been abandoned during the period between March 2020 and May 29 this year.
Uttar Pradesh tops the list with 1,830 children living in single-parent households after death of a parent during pandemic. The state also has the highest number of children - 2110- who have been orphaned, abandoned, or lost one parent.
Bihar comes next with 1,327 vulnerable children, 292 of whom have been orphaned and 1,035 living in single-parent households.