Delhi Announces Free Education For Children Orphaned By Covid

Arvind Kejriwal said poor families would get 10 kg of rations free this month and that families who had lost their breadwinner will get pension of Rs 2,500 per month

Earlier, Arvind Kejriwal called for suspension of India-Singapore flights over a new Covid variant

New Delhi:

Children whose parents died because of COVID-19 will get Rs 2,500 per month (till they turn 25) and their education will be paid for by the Delhi government, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said Tuesday, as he announced a series of welfare measures for poverty- and disaster-hit families.

Mr Kejriwal also said 72 lakh people from poor families will get 10 kg of free rations this month; half of this will be provided by the ruling AAP government and the rest by a central government scheme. The Chief Minister said rations will be given without proof of low income, as is normally the case.

"Many children have lost both parents because of Covid... such children should not think of themselves as lonely and helpless. I stand with them all the time," Mr Kejriwal said in a brief televised statement.

"Each month five kg ration is given at a subsidised rate. But this month they (poor families) will get it free. Over and above this another five kg is being given under PM's schemes... so a total of 10 kg of ration will be given free this time," he said.

"Not everyone has a ration card and they can't be issued at such short notice... so, in good faith whoever says they need free ration, because they are poor, will get it," he added.

Mr Kejriwal said this practice had been followed during the first wave and would stay in place as the national capital fights of the second as well.

In addition he also said families who have lost their sole earning members would get Rs 2,500 per month This is apart from the one-time payment of Rs 50,000 that was announced earlier.

"If the husband was the sole earning member, the wife will get the amount and vice versa. If the person was unmarried, parents will get it. We understand your pain. We know we cannot do anything to bring them back but we will support you financially to the best of our abilities," the Chief Minister said.

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Delhi has over 56,000 active COVID-19 cases - down from over one lakh in end-April (File)

Delhi has been particularly hard hit by the second wave of coronavirus infections and deaths, with daily new cases peaking at nearly 30,000 a few weeks ago. The numbers have slowed since - on Monday the city reported fewer than 5,000 new cases in 24 hours for the first time since April 5.

The flood of new cases drove the city's active caseload from below 10,000 on April 1 to near one lakh by the end of the month. As of Tuesday evening that figure is around 56,000. The result was heart-breaking - hospitals were overflowing patients struggling to get beds, medicines and even oxygen.

The national capital has been under a strict lockdown since April 19, and will continue to be so for another week - till 5 am April 24 - at least to break the chain of transmission.

"We have been witnessing good recovery following lockdown. Cases have declined. We don't want to lose the gain... extending the lockdown for one more week," Mr Kejriwal said Sunday.

The Delhi government has also expressed concern over low vaccine stocks - the subject of a bitter row with the centre. On Monday Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said vaccination for the 18-44 age group will stop in three days unless the centre can provide more doses.

Earlier today Mr Kejriwal flagged a new Covid variant detected in Singapore, which he said, is proving dangerous for children. Arguing that it can "come as a third wave" in India, he suggested that the Centre takes immediate measures, including suspension of flights to and from Singapore.

This morning India recorded over 2.63 lakh new cases in 24 hours - the second consecutive day that this figure is below three lakh - raising hopes the peak of the second wave has been passed.