Welfare measures are welcome but …

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The Jammu and Kashmir administration has announced several welfare measures for families severely hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The government has taken several measures to help those who unfortunately lost their loved ones to COVID-19. Senior citizens who have lost only earning member of the family will be provided special pension for life. Children who have lost their parents to COVID-19 pandemic will be provided with special scholarship by the government. Appreciating the reality that the global pandemic has rendered thousands of daily workers jobless, the government has decided to provide Rs 1000 per month to all registered construction workers, ponywalas, palkiwalas, pithuwalas for the next two months. The government also decided that the installments of social welfare schemes like old-age pension, Laadli Beti, etc., and PMAY, MGNREGA, and other welfare schemes will be released immediately and also decided to extend all the support to Old-Age Homes and Orphanages. The government is also issuing instructions to all DCs to issue death certificates to the people who died due to Covid-19 disease so that the welfare measures are set in motion. The government also decided to release Rs 55 crore under State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) to all the Deputy Commissioners, both Divisional Commissioners and J&K Police for emergency use during the current Covid-19 crisis. Rs 2 crore will be released to all 20 Deputy Commissioners, Rs 5 crore to both Divisional Commissioners and Rs 5 crore to J&K Police for emergency use under SDRF.

The government initiative has been appreciated by one and all and need is that the whole process is set in motion without further delay. The Covid pandemic, while impacting the health and well-being of the people, has also played havoc with the economy of the people. Daily earners, transporters, shopkeepers, vendors, hoteliers, houseboat owners, shikara pullers, ponywalas and other sections of the society have suffered a lot. Though those affiliated with tourism sector were off-beat as tourists had started revisiting Kashmir but the fresh Covid wave has dashed all the hopes and they have again been left high and dry. Though one has every reason to appreciate and laud the UT administration’s welfare scheme, the administration needs to devise a long term rehabilitation policy. Paying Rs 1000 per month to ponywalas and others is appreciable but the administrations need to understand that the amount is not going to make any substantial change in the economy of these people.  Government should think over it seriously and take steps to enhance the amount and also include other sections of the society too who have lost their livelihood due to the spread of the pandemic. Economic costs of the Covid triggered lockdown are too huge and therefore the administration should be ready to open up its coffers to help the needy. While agreeing to the fact that when choice is to be made between life and economy, the life takes the precedence, this is also true that in a welfare state the government can’t afford to watch its citizens dying of hunger. Besides the government, the sections of the society who have a sound economic standing too should come forward and pitch in to help the needy in these times of extreme crisis.


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