Published on June 03, 2021
With Radha Sharma
AHMEDABAD: Rewa Sorathia, 5, was orphaned in the Covid pandemic after both her parents Vinesh and Riddhi succumbed to the viral infection on May 8 and 26 respectively. Rewa is currently being raised by her paternal joint family in Bhuj.
Parth Sorathia, Rewa’s paternal grand uncle says while the family is committed to fulfilling any emotional and financial needs of the little girl, the biggest hurdle in applying for government support for pandemic orphaned children would be the burden of proof of death due to Covid.
“Death certificates of both Vinesh and Riddhi do not specify death due to Covid. We had made a specific request to insert Covid death in the special remarks section but municipalities in Gandhinagar and Kutch did not oblige. How will applicants prove that the child was orphaned due to Covid?” asked Sorathia.
As both the state and central governments have announced schemes for the ‘Covid orphans’ – the kids who have lost both parents to the pandemic, or the earning parent due to Covid infection – activists point out that several of the deceased don’t have the death certificates mentioning Covid-19 as cause of death.
An affidavit submitted by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) to the Supreme Court on May 31 mentioned that Gujarat reported 39 kids who got orphaned due to Covid-19, whereas 395 others lost their earning parent. In all, 434 kids and teens were affected by the pandemic – the eighth highest in India according to the affidavit.
“We have received at least two cases recently where the kids lost their fathers after a short illness. In both the cases, the death certificate did not mention them as Covid-19 patients,” said Smita Pandya, who heads the women’s wing at Majoor Mahajan Sangh. “As several of the Covid patients have not mentioned Covid in their death certificates, they must be included for the initiative.”
Manoj Aggarwal, ACS (social justice & empowerment), told TOI that the state is yet to come up with the GR on the kids affected by Covid-19. “The issue of non-availability of documents in some cases has come to our notice, and we want to assure all that we would try to help the families. Our priority is to identify these kids, which is going on across the state,” he said. “We will only ask for the death certificate. We are taking a liberal view.”
In Ahmedabad, Nisha Chauhan who had lost her father when she was 1.5 years old lost her mother to Coronavirus on April 13. She was a minor who was orphaned and currently stays with her maternal aunt. “My mother’s RT-PCR report in a private laboratory and CT scan shows Covid-19 lung involvement but the death slip issued by Civil Hospital does not mention anything in the cause of death section. Death certificate is yet to be issued. How do I apply and prove I lost my surviving parent to Covid?” asks Nisha.