June 16, 2021 9:44:29 am
Odisha government will provide free education to all children who lost their parents to the Covid-19 pandemic under its ‘Green Passage’ scheme — started for extending financial assistance to orphaned children in the state for higher education — officials have said.
“In Odisha, for higher education, there is the ‘Green Passage’ scheme implemented by the state government. However, in the case of Covid-19 orphans, the scheme will be implemented to cover their education cost at all levels including school. If the orphaned kid is studying at any private institution, the government will bear the costs as well,” advisor to women and child development department, Sulata Deo, said.
According to officials, 35 children in the state have lost both their parents to the pandemic so far. Tehsildars in all districts have been asked to submit a detailed report regarding all the children orphaned due to the pandemic.
In Nimatpur village of Balasore district, seven-year-old Krishna and her one-and-a-half-month-old brother were orphaned after their parents succumbed to the virus within a span of two weeks. Her mother, Smita Panda, worked as a staff nurse at a cancer hospital while her father, Kamalesh, worked at East Coast Railways headquarters. Smita was eight months pregnant when she succumbed to the virus. Meanwhile, Krishna and her brother are staying with their paternal uncle.
On Monday, a 14-month-old boy from Angul district too lost both his parents and grandmother to the virus in quick succession. He was shifted to a district child care institution.
Officials said the scheme will cover the costs of admission, tuition and examination fees of children for school and higher education, including technical education, engineering etc. These children will also be entitled to a pension of Rs 2,000 per month, officials said, adding that beneficiaries will be given an advance pension for June, July and August.
The Women and Child Development and Mission Shakti department has also issued dedicated helpline numbers — 1098, OSCPSR helpline 1800-345-4494 and State Covid helpline 104 — for tracking children in vulnerable situations. Temporary homes have been created in all 30 districts to keep the distressed children whose families were affected by Covid second wave.
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