Guwahati: Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Sunday rolled out a scheme to provide one-time financial assistance of Rs 2.5 lakh each to all widows, whose husbands died due to COVID-19, if their annual family income is less than Rs 5 lakh.
Under the new 'Chief Minister's COVID-19 Widows Support Scheme', Sarma handed over cheques to 176 eligible beneficiaries from eight districts at a function here.
At least 873 beneficiaries have been identified as of now under this scheme, and all the cheques will be given to them by state ministers in districts by the next week, Sarma said.
"This is not a happy programme for us. When we invite beneficiaries for some government schemes, we always take pride. But for today's event, we are neither proud nor happy," he said.
In Assam, 6,159 coronavirus-positive people have died, including 1,347 due to comorbidities, he said.
"Though we have identified 873 widows, we expect that 2,000-2,500 will be there. The enrolment process is going on in districts," the chief minister said.
The Assam government has already launched a scheme to provide Rs 3,500 per month to children, who lost their parents due to COVID-19.
"I have requested the finance minister to provide some funds to give something to other COVID-19 affected families.
Assam has done something before other states have taken such initiatives," Sarma said.
The state Budget for 2021-22 will be presented on July 16 by Finance Minister Ajanta Neog.
The Budget Session of the assembly will begin on Monday.
The beneficiaries of 'Orunodoi' and 'Widow Pension' programmes are also eligible for the one-time financial assistance under the 'Chief Minister's COVID-19 Widows Support Scheme'.
As per the scheme, the beneficiary's husband should be a COVID-19 positive patient at the time of death, and it should be certified by the State-Level COVID Death Audit Board.
"A beneficiary must belong to a low-income family having an annual income less than Rs 5 lakh," the scheme details mentioned.
It, however, stated that widows of government servants will not be covered under this scheme as they will get the family pension as per usual norms.
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