Welcome welfare scheme
Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha has launched a special scheme for financial assistance to families which have lost their only bread-earner due to COVID pandemic. A Special Cell has been created in Social Welfare Department to identify and track support to these families over time. Under the scheme SASCM or Special Assistance Scheme for COVID Mortalities, the government has decided to provide cash assistance of Rs 1000 per month to spouse and the eldest member of the family. The scheme provides for scholarship of Rs 20,000 per annum for school-going students and Rs 40,000 per annum for college-going students and a family in distress shall be eligible for scholarship for two children, if they are not getting any other scholarship. The Special Cell in Social Welfare Department shall also explore further assistance under other existing schemes of the government for which the family may be eligible. An important element of support shall be financial assistance for self employment for any of the surviving member who wishes to start any business for livelihood support. The assistance under the scheme commences next month. The launch of the scheme has been appreciated by one and all however, the people in distress expect much more from the government.
Covid-19 pandemic, while impacting the health and well-being of the people, has also played havoc with the economy of the masses. 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 administration needs 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. There are thousands of people who were working in private sector, be those public transport drivers and conductors, sales assistants working on shops and provisional stores and others, have lost their jobs. The administration needs to take steps for their rehabilitation too. 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.