As the country continues to remain under the COVID-19 lockdown, Director General (DG), Department of Social Welfare Kashmir, Rukhsana Gani on Thursday said that the government will not allow the economic distress to affect the poor and destitute living in the Union Territory.
To mitigate the sufferings due to COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown, the administration has reached out to poor and destitute in Jammu and Kashmir and released two months advance payment to 3.2 lakh pensioners in Kashmir division under Integrated Social Security Scheme (ISSS).
The DG said several measures have been taken by the department to alleviate the sufferings of old aged people, physically challenged, women in distress and destitute reeling under COVID-19 lockdown.
“Besides two months advance pension of Rs 1000 each for poor persons, which includes aged persons, widows and other economically backward people under ISSS, new pensions in favour of about 1.04 lakh people has been approved by the government,” she said.
The government is also making payment of two months pension to these beneficiaries shortly, she added.
The DG said pensions have also been paid to nearly 80,000 beneficiaries under National Social Assistance Program (NSAP), “Ex-gratia payment of Rs 1000 each has also been advanced by the central government for beneficiaries of NSAP,” she said.
She said the administration has set up dedicated helplines for helping senior citizens, people with disabilities and others in distress.
Regarding students, she said that scholarships have been awarded to about 5.75 lakh students despite the COVID-19 lockdown, “Students have been one of the priorities for our department and we are ensuring that their academic pursuits don’t get hampered due to financial distress,” she said.
Rukhsana Gani also said the department has set up committees that are undertaking weekly inspections of childcare institutions, both government-run and those managed by Non-Governmental Organisations to ensure that these places are complying with guidelines to combat Covid-19.
The DG said the department is providing masks, sanitisers and other protective equipment to these institutions, “District Social Welfare Officers have been provided a sum of Rs one lakh each for this purpose,” she said.
Rukhsana Gani said adequate and good quality ration is being supplied to these homes, both government and NGO-run, so that childcare doesn’t suffer under the prevailing situation.
“Social Welfare Department has also been entrusted with the responsibility of looking after the families of health workers and all other government functionaries, who are on COVID duty. Our staff is reaching out to these families on daily basis,” she said.