The Maharashtra cabinet, chaired by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, on Wednesday gave its nod to deposit a one-time amount of Rs 5 lakh in bank accounts of children who have lost both their parents to COVID-19, besides making efforts to rehabilitate such orphans through other schemes. The amount will be given along with an interest to the child after he or she attains the age of 21 years.
Women and Child Development Minister Yashomati Thakur said such children have suffered a massive mental blow and needed motherly support. Considering the circumstances, the women and child development department is planning to start a new scheme for children up to the age of 18 years, Thakur said.
“The state government is going to fulfil its responsibility. The fixed deposit of Rs 5 lakh would be used for their rehabilitation in future. Also, if other family members of such orphans do not come forward to take them under their care, then they would receive shelter at government-run child care homes. However, if the relatives are ready to take care, they would be provided benefits under the child care scheme for which the state government has hiked grant by Rs 1,100," the minister said.
The amount would be deposited in the joint account of the child and the district women and child development department officer.
An action plan will also be drafted to provide skill development training that would help such children come up with permanent income options, she added.
So far, 141 children in the state were found to have lost both their parents, Thakur said, adding there is a possibility that there would be a rise in the number.
“The state government has made a provision of Rs 10 crore to implement the scheme. If more such children are found, additional provision would be made," the minister said.
Besides, the expense of the child’s upbringing would be borne through the child care scheme of the women and child development department. The scheme is similar to the one implemented by the Centre through the PM-CARES fund.
The government has constituted district-level taskforce and respective collectors will be the chairperson of the team. The task force has been entrusted with the responsibility of collating information of children who have lost both their parents to COVID-19.