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Ramakanta Biswas

Less than three months after launching 'Ashirbad' (blessing), a new scheme to support children orphaned by Covid-19, the Odisha government on Monday announced its discontinuation from September 15.

The scheme was formally rolled out by the State government in June this year for education, health and maintenance of children who lost both parents/primary bread earner parent during the Covid pandemic.

The scheme includes monthly financial support and other convergent support for eligible children and their care givers. 
As per the scheme guidelines, the beneficiaries include children who lost their parent(s) on or after April 1, 2020.

However, the Women and Child Development Department said after September 15 such children will be covered under Child Protection Scheme of the government and not under 'Ashirbad'. 

“It is observed that COVID-19 disease has a declining trend in the State for quite some time now. In view of the same, it is decided that any such children whose parent (s)/ primary bread earner or any other person died after September 15, 2021 shall only be covered under Child Protection Scheme of the government for children in need of care and protection and not under Ashirbad,” Aravind Agarwal, Director of ICDS & SW stated in a letter. 

Agarwal said 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 specified in the guideline.

He asked all district Collectors to take appropriate action in this regard.

As per the guidelines of the scheme, the children who have lost both of their parents or single parents will be provided a monthly assistance of Rs 2,500 up to the age of 18. Similarly, the children who have lost either their fathers or mothers due to Covid-19 pandemic will be provided a monthly assistance of Rs 1,500.

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