SRINAGAR, MAY 23: While Social Welfare Department is mandated to provide help both in cash and in kind to the underprivileged sections of the society, the department has been working in a mission mode during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. The department is ensuring that benefits percolate to the destitute, poor, old aged and other socially & economically backward and deserving beneficiaries under its various schemes.
While giving a detailed account of works being conducted by the department during the present situation, the Director General Social Welfare Department Kashmir, Rukhsana Gani said that the main aim of the department is to extend helping hand to various categories of beneficiaries and for this they primarily have two schemes namely Pension and Scholarship schemes.
‘’Since people are facing financial difficulties in this lockdown period due to COVID-19, the department has given an advance pension of two months to 3, 20,000 beneficiaries under Integrated Social Security Scheme (ISSS) scheme in Kashmir division,” she said.
Giving details DG Social Welfare said that government wanted to cover more and more people for relief so that no one among deserving is left to fend for themselves in absence of any income earning opportunity and for this, “An additional sanction for 1, 70,000 beneficiaries was made under ISSS scheme in April, of which 85,000 are from Kashmir Division and subsequently pension for the month of April was also released to them .Overall 8 lakh beneficiaries in the UT of J&K have so far received benefits under the ISSS scheme”.
Under National Social Assistance Program (NSAP), a centrally sponsored scheme, a total of 1, 50,000 persons have been provided benefits in terms of pension which is directly credited into their account.
While elaborating on other initiatives, DG Social Welfare said that under Prime Minister Gareeb Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY), assistance of Rupees five hundred each has been provided to the NSAP beneficiaries and the second instalment of Rs 500 per person, which is over and above their regular pension, has also been sanctioned and will be released to them shortly.
“Despite lock down the benefits of scholarships is being extended to children of poor, other backward categories, minorities, economically backward classes, manual scavengers, sweepers which have seen 250 percent increase in comparison to last year with 8 lakh such children covered in UT of J&K and 5.5 lakh in Kashmir alone, which in itself is a bigger achievement”” she added.
DG Social Welfare also lauded the efforts of other sister concerns of the department and said that they are working shoulder to shoulder with Social Welfare department in mitigating the sufferings of the needy.
“Our sister concerns like ICPS are also doing great job and under this scheme our District Social Welfare Officers who also work as Child Protection Officers have obtained a grant of 2 lakh rupees so that children living in institutional care whether in government run or other orphanages, NGOs etc are provided with masks, sanitizers and hand wash items so that they take adequate precautions to save themselves from COVID-19 disease,” she added.
The DG informed that the government has also constituted a committee which after every week takes inspection of care- institutions to check if all the students are healthy and that they are properly taken care of and provided healthy nutrition.
She said that the government has also sanctioned a large chunk of money for meeting the expenses of nutrition of these children putting up in both government and non government run homes.
Apart from these children putting up in institutional care homes, the government has also lend help to those deserving and underprivileged children putting up at their respective homes, “Besides institutional care, the deserving children living at home are provided 2000 rupees each per month to meet the expenses of their studies, food and clothing,” Gani said.
While giving the details of the beneficiaries covered under Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) she said, “The government has provided 6.5 lac beneficiaries that include children of aged 0-6 years, lactating mothers and pregnant women with supplementary nutrition during this COVID-19 period”.
She said a lot of work has also been done in domestic violence cases, assistance for old aged people, women in distress cases and for them a special help line 112 has been started. Besides these, the social welfare department is also doing work for families of people working in COVID-19 emergency.
Rukhsana Gani emphasized that Social Welfare Department is committed to the socio-economic upliftment of vulnerable sections of society particularly during Covid-19 outbreak and the department has taken the responsibility to make the process convenient and ensure all beneficiaries registered with department receive timely monetary assistance.