Assam launches scheme to provide ₹2.5 lakh aid to Covid widows
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma launched a scheme on Sunday wherein social and financial security would be provided to women who have lost their husbands to the coronavirus disease. Under the 'Chief Minister's COVID-19 Widows Support Scheme', a one-time assistance of ₹2.5 lakh each will be given to such women whose family income is less than ₹5 lakh.
Sarma, who handed over cheques to 176 eligible beneficiaries from eight districts, namely Kamrup (Metro), Nalbari, Darrang, Baksa, Morigaon, Nagaon, Goalpara and Kamrup, in Guwahati, said the event was not a happy one for him. "This is not a happy programme for us. When we invite beneficiaries for some government schemes, we always take pride. But for today's event, we are neither proud nor happy," said Sarma, who took over from Sarbananda Sonowal as chief minister after the last Assembly election.
At least 873 beneficiaries have been identified as of now under this scheme, and all the cheques will be given to them by state ministers in districts by the next week, Sarma said. "Though we have identified 873 widows, we expect that 2,000-2,500 will be there. The enrolment process is going on in districts," he said.
The state has so far registered 6,159 coronavirus-related deaths, including 1,347 fatalities due to comorbidities. Sarma said the Assam government has already launched a scheme to provide ₹3,500 per month to children who lost their parents due to COVID-19.
"I have requested the finance minister to provide some funds to give something to other COVID-19 affected families. Assam has done something before other states have taken such initiatives," Sarma said.
Beneficiaries of 'Orunodoi' and 'Widow Pension' programmes are also eligible for the one-time financial assistance under the 'Chief Minister's COVID-19 Widows Support Scheme'. According to the scheme, the beneficiary's husband should be a COVID-19 positive patient at the time of death, and it should be certified by the State-Level COVID Death Audit Board. "A beneficiary must belong to a low-income family having an annual income less than ₹5 lakh," the scheme details mentioned. It, however, stated that widows of government servants will not be covered under this scheme as they will get the family pension as per usual norms.
The state Budget for 2021-22 will be presented on July 16 by Finance Minister Ajanta Neog. The Budget Session of the assembly will begin on Monday.
(With inputs from agencies)