Punjab Social Security, Women and Child Development Minister Aruna Chaudhary, on Friday, informed that the department has found total 23 children of the state, who have lost both their parents to the COVID-19 Pandemic between the period of March 31, 2020 to May 31, 2021.Elaborating the details, Mrs. Chaudhary said that complying with the directions of Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh, Social Security, Women and Child Development Department, being a nodal department, has followed proper procedure and find out 23 children within two weeks,which included those children, whose both parents died of COVID or children who had earlier lost one parent and the remaining single parent died due to COVID, thereby rendering the child orphaned. She said that in all these cases of children orphaned by COVID, proper procedure is being followed, social investigation is being conducted, the child and his close relatives are interviewed, their views are ascertained. Initially most such children have been taken in by their close relatives. She said that those children, who are not accepted by relatives or those, who do not have relatives, will be taken into our Children's Homes.Talking about the immediate measure taken to mitigate the distress of the children, who have lost both their parents and families which have lost their breadwinners due to COVID, concerned departments have been asked to provide immediate relief for these children and families by bringing them under the umbrella of various concerned welfare schemes.
Mrs. Chaudhary said that administrative secretaries of these departments have been asked to share the detailed action plan along with a list of amendments in policy/preparation of guidelines/SOPS for the various tasks assigned, appoint a nodal officer, not below the rank of Deputy Director to ensure smooth and effective implementation of relief measures.Mrs. Chaudhary said that a monitoring committee has also been established under her Chairpersonship, which shall have the Administrative Secretaries of key departments as its members. The committee shall meet at least once a month and review in detail the relief measure being put in place for every single case.For ease of access to relief measures, said the Cabinet Minister, the Department of Social Security and Women and Child Development shall maintain the record of all such affected persons and apprise them in writing of the welfare measures being offered to them. "As and when the affected person applies to the department for availing any of the relief measures, the Department shall coordinate with the concerned departments until the desired relief has been made available", she categorically said.The Cabinet Minister said, CDPO of each block has been designated as special mentors for each such child and will act as counsellor-cum-motivator for the child, adding that children will also be produced before the Child Welfare Committee of the relevant district.Mrs. Chaudhary said that the state government will provide Rs.1500 per month as social security pension, along with free education up to graduation, for all those children orphaned in the COVID pandemic, as well as families that have lost their breadwinning member from July 1, 2021 onwards. The affected persons would also be eligible for grant of Rs.51000 under Ashirwaad Scheme and would be entitled to free ration under the State Smart Ration Card Scheme and coverage under the Sarbat Sehat Bima Yojana. The State Government would also assist the affected family members to find a suitable job under Ghar Ghar Rozgar and Karobaar Mission.