Families of Covid-19 victims need assistance

Monday Musing

[ Junroi Mamai ]

The state has till now reported 188 Covid-19 fatalities. According to the health department’s data, our state is witnessing a steady increase in the number of Covid-19 cases, with an average of over 300 cases reported within the first week of July. The data showed that, till Saturday, the state had 3,741 active Covid-19 cases, with a total of 188 Covid-19 fatalities.

What the data show is worrying because 188 Covid-19-related deaths in a state like ours is not insignificant; it is enough to make us notice and take action. The state government, apart from initiating steps to strengthen and equip the health department, should also initiate the task of identifying and providing immediate relief to the families of the victims of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The pandemic has already been declared as a national disaster by the government. It has affected millions of lives in the country, including our state. There may be children in our state who have lost one or both of their parents to Covid-19, or there may be wives who lost their husbands who were the sole breadwinners of the family. They can be provided with assistance in terms of ration, clothing, other necessities and financial aid, or provided jobs or temporary employment under government schemes.

Earlier, in May this year, the Supreme Court had taken note of children orphaned due to Covid-19 and directed the states to identify them and provide immediate relief.

The apex court directed the Centre and the state governments to get the latest information on the identification of such children. The district administrations were asked to identify the orphans in their areas and upload their data to the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights website.

The court further directed the state governments to set up a district task force in every district, comprising representatives from the district administration, like the SDM, the police authorities, like the DSP, and the functionaries under the JJ Act, which would be tasked with identification of such children.

Considering the population of Arunachal, the task of identifying and providing immediate relief to the families of Covid-19 victims would not be difficult to achieve. The government of Arunachal can also incorporate similar measures in the state, or it can take a cue from New Delhi and neighbouring Assam, which have already announced financial assistance to the families of Covid-19 victims.

The Delhi government on 6 July launched a social security scheme, the Mukhyamantri Covid-19 Pariwar Aarthik Sahayata Yojana, and a portal to provide financial assistance to the families of Covid-19 victims.

Under the scheme, an ex gratia of Rs 50,000 will be given to every family that lost a member to Covid-19, and an additional Rs 2,500 per month will be given if the deceased was the sole breadwinner.

Likewise, the Assam government on 11 June announced a one-time financial assistance of Rs 2.5 lakhs for every woman in the state who has lost her husband to Covid-19 from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. It also announced a monthly pension to Covid widows.

Also, for children who lost both their parents to Covid-19, a fixed deposit of Rs 7,81,200 will be parked in the bank in the name of each beneficiary and monthly financial assistance of Rs 3,500 from the fixed deposit, including the central government’s support of Rs 2,000, will be provided until the beneficiary reaches 24 years of age.