Educational assistance and health cover to be part of special PM-CARES scheme.
The government on Saturday announced a special “PM-CARES for Children” scheme for all those orphaned due to COVID-19, which will include a corpus of ₹10 lakh for each child till he or she reaches 18.
The decision was taken at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Children who have lost both parents or their lone surviving parent or their legal guardian or adoptive parent due to COVID-19 will be supported under the scheme. The Women and Child Development Ministry has said that there are a total 577 COVID-19 orphans identified across the country.
When a child turns 18, he or she will draw a monthly stipend from the corpus of ₹10 lakh in order to meet expenses for personal needs and higher education. On reaching 23, the child will get the entire ₹10 lakh, according to an official statement.
The government will also assist such children with school education. They will be given admission in the nearest Kendriya Vidyalaya or in a private school as a day scholar. If the child is admitted in a private school, the school fees will be paid from the PM CARES fund as per norms under the Right To Education Act, 2009. PM CARES will also meet expenses on uniform, text books and notebooks.
Children in the age group of 11-18 years will also have the option to study in a residential school under the Central government such as Sainik School and Navodaya Vidyalaya.
These children will also be supported during their higher education through either scholarship equivalent to the tuition fees or educational loans where the interest on the loan will be paid by the PM CARES fund.
All children will be enrolled as a beneficiary under Ayushman Bharat Scheme with a health insurance cover of ₹5 lakh, where the premium amount will be paid by PM CARES till a child turns 18.
On Friday, the Supreme Court ordered the district authorities to upload the details of children in need of care and protection on NCPCR (National Commission for Protection of Child Rights) portal Bal Swaraj, which is aimed at tracking children every step of the way- from the stage when they are produced before the Child Welfare Committee to their restoration to the extended family or referral to a childcare institution. The NCPCR says that the centralised monitoring will also help it to identify if there are States in need of financial assistance to support such children.
Pension scheme for kin of COVID-19 victims
The government has also announced measures to help the families who have lost the sole earning member due to COVID-19. The pension scheme of the Employees State Insurance Corporation, applicable for employment-related deaths, is being extended to those who died due of COVID-19. The scheme will come into effect from March 24, 2020 to March 24, 2022.
Similarly, insurance benefits under the Employees’ Deposit Linked Insurance Scheme (EDLI) under the Employees Provident Fund Organisation will be available, according to a press statement.
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