Aimed at providing appropriate care, protection, development, and self-reliance to orphans, specially-abled children, destitute women, and elderly individuals, the Himachal Pradesh government on Tuesday launched first of its kind scheme – ‘Mukhyamantri Sukh Ashraya Yojana’.
As he formally launched the scheme in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu said the purpose of the scheme was to serve the most vulnerable section of the society. “In a first-of-its-kind initiative in the country, my government took a decision to adopt the orphans, the specially-abled children as the ‘Children of the State’ and work for their upliftment and well-being, giving them all parental care, besides taking care of the destitute women and elderly who have no one to look after,” he said.
He said despite facing financial challenges and the recent disaster that struck Himachal Pradesh, the State government started this scheme. The Chief Minister distributed financial benefits worth ₹4.68 crore to eligible children which includes ₹15.52 lakh for fees and other hostel expenses, along with ₹11.52 lakh as monthly expenses benefiting 48 orphaned children for pursuing higher education. Apart from this, ₹7.02 lakh for fees and ₹4.08 lakh for monthly expenses were also distributed to 17 orphaned children enrolled in a few professional courses.
The Chief Minister said that under the scheme, approximately 2,700 newly identified orphans living with relatives will also get monthly financial assistance of ₹4,000 until the age of 27 years. “The Government is committed to protecting the interests of such vulnerable children, and has made a provision for a nurse for each child requiring motherly care and also a matron for every three children to care and nurture them,” said Mr. Sukhu.
“Besides, the scheme also incorporates a 15-day educational tour annually for the orphan children, and their stay in three-star hotels. Besides, the air travel and all other expenses will be borne by the government. These rights, as granted to orphan children, were not merely for the sake of mercy, but now it was a law to protect their rights,” he added.
The State government had recently passed the Himachal Pradesh Sukh Ashray (Care, Protection and Self Reliance of Children) Bill, 2023 in the State Assembly.
Mr. Sukhu said under the scheme, the beneficiaries will also receive ₹10 thousand as apparel allowances, ₹500 as festival grant and a marriage grant of ₹2 lakh. “For higher education, children are eligible for financial assistance of up to ₹1 lakh and a monthly pocket money of ₹4,000. Also, grants of ₹2 lakh will be provided to support orphan children in establishing small or micro-industries for self-employment,” he added.
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