Assam to provide Rs 3,500 every month, other assistance for children orphaned due to COVID-19

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(Eds: Changing header, adding info) Guwahati, May 29 (PTI) Assam Chief Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday said his government will be providing Rs 3,500 per month to the caretaker or guardian of every child orphaned due to COVID-19, for their education and skill development.

Sarma, while addressing a press conference here, also said that the ones who have no extended family will be sent to residential schools or institutions, with the state bearing all their expenses.

'The state government, for every orphaned child, will be doling out Rs 3,500 each month, of which Rs 2,000 will be borne by the Centre,' he stated.

The initiative, to be undertaken under a new programme - 'Chief Minister's Shishu Seva Scheme' -- will be launched on Sunday, marking seven years of the PM Narendra Modi-led NDA government at the Centre.

All such children, who have lost their parents to the pandemic, will be given vocational or skill-based training to ensure they get to earn a livelihood, Sarma said.

'Children below ten years of age with no extended family will be taken care of by the government. They will be housed in one of the childcare institutions, and adequate funds will be provided for their upkeep and education.

'Orphaned adolescents, both girls and boys, will be sent to reputed educational institutes, where proper care and protection will be ensured,' the CM explained.

The state government is currently exploring institutes where these children could put up -- options ranging from Goalpara Sainik School, Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya to Navodaya schools and other private establishments with hostel facilities, he underlined.

Girls who have reached marriageable age will be given a one-time financial package, Sarma said.

'The government will provide 10 gm gold under Arundhati scheme, and an amount of Rs 50,000 to each such girl. It will also give a laptop or a tablet to every school- and college-going student, who have lost their parents to COVID-19 or post-COVID complications,' he said.

The scheme will be jointly implemented by the departments of social welfare and education, with deputy commissioners identifying and making a list of all such children and adolescents, Sarma said, pointing out that the Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights will be tasked with the responsibility of monitoring its execution.

'We are undertaking a large-scale vaccination programme, and making all efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus, while provide adequate treatment to COVID patients. It is our moral and social responsibility to take care of the orphans,' the CM added. PTI DG RMS RMS

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