Odisha govt to discontinue the ‘Ashirwad’ scheme for covid orphans

The scheme was announced for the education, health and maintenance of children orphaned due to the pandemic.

Four months after the announcement of the scheme that will financially support the covid orphans, Naveen Patnaik govt has decided to discontinue, citing the drop in covid cases.

In a letter to all district collectors, the director of the Integrated Child Development scheme, Arvind Agrawal, said any children whose parent(s)/primary bread earner or any other person died due to Covid-19 after September 15 would only be covered under existing Child Protection Scheme of the government and not under Ashirwad. “It is observed that Covid-19 disease has a declining trend in the state for quite some time,” the letter said referring to the declining Test positivity Rate (TPR) as well as deaths in the state due to Covid-19.

On Monday, Odisha reported six new deaths, taking the total death toll to 8,104. The TPR over the last few weeks has gone below one and the number of recoveries has gone up to over a million. The recovery percentage of Odisha has risen to 98.5, higher than the national average of 97.45.

According to the guidelines for the Ashirwad scheme, a child who has lost both or one parent is entitled to Rs 2,500 per month while a child who has lost a parent who was also the breadwinner for the family is entitled to Rs 1,500 per month.

The financial assistance of Rs 2,500 is transferred to the bank account of the relative taking care of the child who has lost both parents.

In cases where one of the parents is alive, Rs 1,500 is transferred to the account of the father or mother. The district child protection units are supposed to be in regular touch with the relatives of such children to monitor their wellbeing.
Besides, if any child stays in a childcare institution instead of staying with a relative, an amount of Rs 1,000 is deposited in a bank account in his / her name as a recurring deposit till s / he doesn’t attain the age of 18. His / her needs like food, education and health are taken care of by the institution.

As many as 1,773 children lost their parents in Odisha to Covid-19 infections since 1 April 2020, according to a report compiled by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR). While 163 kids lost both their parents, 1,610 children lost one of their parents since the outbreak of pandemic in Odisha on 1 April 2000, the NCPCR report said.

The commission, in an affidavit filed before the SC last month, said at least 101,032 children in the country lost one or both their parents during the first and the second waves of the Covid-19 pandemic between April 1, 2020, and August 23 this year.

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