As the death toll mounts due to the COVID-19 second wave, children of affected parents are increasingly left to fend for themselves in Bengaluru. The government of Karnataka has now come forward to identify and offer help to them.
The government has appointed KP Mohan Taj, IAS officer and inspector general of registration and commissioner of stamps, as a nodal officer to identify such children and provide the necessary support to them, reported The Hindu.
The officer will be responsible for making long-term arrangements to take care of such children, said an order issued by revenue department principal secretary N Manjunath Prasad, who is also a member secretary of the executive committee of the Karnataka State Disaster Management Authority.
Messages are being circulated on social media platforms about children whose parents had succumbed to COVID-19, being up for adoption, which sought the attention of several child rights' activists in the city.
The Karnataka government's childline (1098), which is run by Childline India Foundation, has also been receiving many calls from across the state on children orphaned after their parents succumbed to COVID-19.
Many callers seek food assistance for children whose parents are hospitalised or are in need of oxygen support.
A group of experts, government officials and members of several non-governmental organisations, are working together to identify such cases and ensure their care.
Vasudeva Sharma, director of Childline Nodal Agency, said that mischievous messages on children ready for adoption are tantamount to trafficking. He said that the centre had recently issued a directive to all states to ensure that the local childline unit contacts the child to confirm the case and produce the child before the child welfare committee.
The district administrations were directed to take steps to immediately restore normalcy in the life of children orphaned by COVID-19.
Uma Mahadevan, IAS officer who has coordinated efforts to form the expert group, said that a standard operating procedure (SOP) was being drawn up for such cases.
"It is an evolving situation. While some children may require short-term care, there may be cases where the children have no kin and need to be taken into care by the state. We are looking at various possible scenarios to ensure that the child's rights and interests are protected," she said.