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Odisha Govt Discontinues Ashirbad Scheme for Orphan Children

Bhubaneswar: Three months after the announcement of the Ashirbad scheme for orphan children, Odisha government has decided to discontinue the scheme from September 15 citing drop on COVID-19 cases in the state.

As per new decision, children whose parents or primary bread earners or any other person died after September 15 will now be covered under Child protection scheme of the Odisha Government.

In a letter to all the collectors, Aravind Agarwal, Director, ICDS & SW has directed to take appropriate action regarding eligibility under the Ashirbad scheme for the specially cared children.

Stating that the number of COVID-19 cases has declined in the state, the letter read, “It is observed that COVID 19 disease has a declining trend in the State for quite some time. In view of the same, it is decided that any such children whose parent (s) or primary bread earner or any other person died after 15 September shall only be covered under the Child Protection Scheme of the Govt for children in need of care and Protection and not under Ashirbad.”

The letter further mentioned that all cases covered under Ashirbad scheme shall continue to get the benefit as mentioned in the scheme guidelines till they attain 18 years of age or till adoption.

As per the reports of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), around 1,773 children in Odisha have lost their parents due to Covid-19 infections since 1 April 2020. Since the pandemic 163 kids lost both their parents, 1,610 children lost one of their parents.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had launched the scheme on 20 June 2021 for the welfare of children who lost both parents or primary bread earner parent on or after April 1, 2020.

As per the scheme, Rs 2500 per month were given to the children who have lost both parents or single parent and Rs 1500 per month to those who have lost earning parent due to COVID-19. The amount was being transferred to the bank accounts of the guardians of the orphans till they turn 18 years. 

The scheme also included free medical benefits under the Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana. Children who need this special care will be included in the National or State Food Security Scheme. 

The state government had also announced to support the continuation of their education at their respective schools. Under the Green Scheme, the children will also be supported for their higher education. The children and their caretakers will be entitled to avail pucca house under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana or Biju Pucca Ghar Yojana and benefits under other government schemes.

Surprised with the decision of the government, child rights activists Ghasiram Panda  shared, “Its an unfortunate decision. It was a wonderful scheme and efforts were being made for its successful implementation across the state. Government should not discontinue it as the scheme also includes free education, protection of properties”

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