The Calcutta High Court on
Wednesday directed the West Bengal government to ensure that proper care is taken of the children of migrant workers in need of protection and care amid the coronavirus outbreak.
A division bench comprising justices Harish Tandon and Soumen Sen, hearing suo motu the issue of children in various government and private homes in view of the COVID-19 spread, directed it to submit a comprehensive report on the condition of children in such facilities and steps taken to ensure their well-being.
Noting that there has been an influx of migrants in the state since the outbreak of the disease and the resultant countrywide lockdown, the court said that the children of the migrants may be in need of care and protection.
The government must take care of the children of the migrant workers and migrant families who arrived in the state since the outbreak of COVID-19 and shall identify the children who may be considered as in need of care and protection, the court directed.
Observing that the rights of such children shall be protected, the division bench directed the government to disclose in the report the steps taken to protect the child rights of such migrant children.
The court also directed the Principal Secretary of the Child Welfare Department to ensure that superintendents attached to the homes shall not leave their workplace until the lockdown is lifted.
The superintendent would ensure the cleanliness of each home and special attention should be paid to the health and hygiene of every child, the bench ordered, while directing that proper screening of the children should be made at regular intervals and if any child is reported to have the symptoms of COVID-19, immediate steps must be taken for treatment.
The court further directed that the superintendent must also take due care of the mental health of the children.
The superintendent must remove fear from the minds of the children and change the channel of their thoughts from worries over the outbreak to that of joy through dancing, art, music, gardening, yoga and meditation, the court directed.
"We would expect all stakeholders to be compassionate to the children," the court observed.
The division bench directed the Principal Secretary of Department of Women and Child Development and Social Welfare and the Principal Secretary of the Health Department to file a comprehensive report with regard to the steps taken on or before the next date of hearing on April 21.
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