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Himachal passes bill to take care of orphans’ education, provide Rs 4,000 ‘pocket money’

April 7, 2023

The Himachal Pradesh Assembly on April 6, passed a Bill to provide shelter, education and Rs 4,000 as “pocket money” to orphaned children, calling them “children of the state”.

Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu said the proposed legislation would make Himachal Pradesh the first state to have such legislation, but the opposition BJP claimed that its provision already exist in central schemes.

The Himachal Pradesh Sukhashraya (Care, Protection and Self Reliance of Children of the State) Bill 2023 aims at taking care of destitute children and orphans.

The bill defines destitute children and orphans as “children of the state” and provides for securing education, skill training and future of these children. Besides providing shelter and care, the orphaned children will get ‘pocket money’ of Rs 4,000 per month, thus benefitting 6,000 children.

Replying to the debate on the Bill, Sukhu said Himachal Pradesh is the first state in the country to pass such a legislation and full budget provision has been made for implementation of the Bill, adding that funds worth Rs 101 crore have been earmarked for the same.

“This scheme is not a copy of any other scheme and the government will not only parent the orphans up to the age of 27 years, but also bear the expenses of their higher education and give pocket money of Rs 4,000 per month,” he said, adding that after attaining the age of 27 years, they will be provided three ‘biswa’ land and money for constructing their houses.

The chief minister asserted that there is no Act in the country which talks about “children of the state” and Sukhashraya is the first such scheme.

The Opposition, however, hit out at the Congress-led state government and said most of the provisions of the Bill already exist in schemes of the Union government.

Leader of the Opposition Jai Ram Thakur and BJP leader Hans Raj said it appears that the chief minister has named the scheme after him.

BJP’s Trilok Jamwal claimed that provisions existing in the Juvenile Justice Act have been incorporated in the Bill.

The implementation of provisions of the Bill shall involve an approximate expenditure of Rs 272.27 crore. According to the Bill, Child Welfare Committees will be constituted which will be competent to order admission of persons in After Care Institutions.

The state government shall make arrangements to extend the stay of orphans and destitute children in Child Care Institutions after they cross 18 years of age, up to two more years. In exceptional cases, such children may be placed in After Care Institutions till 23 years of age with these institutes providing for their education and giving them employable skills and placement, thus facilitating their re-integration into the mainstream. 

Source: PTI

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