Suparna Kambale, a 37-year-old widow from Barshi tehsil of Solapur district in Maharashtra, lost her husband Siddharth Kambale to Covid-19 on April 18, 2021. Suparna has two kids -- a six-year-old girl named Tara and a three-year-old boy named Virat. The question before her right now is how to survive and how to raise the children.
"Relatives have given me some money. So, I am surviving for now. But I need some work so that I can get a regular amount," said Suparna.
According to Corona Ekal Mahila Punarvasan Samiti (Corona Single Woman Rehabilitation Committee), there are 20 thousand such women across the state. This Committee was established after the second wave of the pandemic. There are 150 organisations across 124 tehsils in 22 districts that have joined hands to fight this battle.
"Covid has destroyed many families. Single women who lost their husbands need immediate relief. Many states, be it Bihar or Rajasthan or Odisha, have announced various schemes. Maharashtra government needs to follow the path," said Heramb Kulkarni, a member of the forum.
Recently the Committee held a meeting with the Women and Children Welfare minister in the state. In the meeting, they demanded financial aid worth Rs 5 lakh for these women. They also sought the provision of loans without interest for some businesses. The Committee has asked to make a law to safeguard the properties of these widows.
After this meeting, the state instructed district collectors to conduct surveys on widows. However, that is not enough. The state is already working on helping orphans due to covid-19. This work will now include a survey on widows.
States like Rajasthan, Odisha, Bihar have brought different schemes. Delhi government is giving Rs 50,000 as help and Rs 2,500 monthly pension. Rajasthan has announced Rs 1 lakh as help and Rs 1,500 as a monthly pension. Assam has given Rs 2.5 lakh as help and if a girl is about to marry in such a family, then Rs 50,000 as help for the marriage ceremony. On this line, the Committee is expecting the Maharashtra government to announce a scheme.
"We know that the state's financial condition is serious. So, if it is not possible to give some money now, the state can come up with a bond. Give Rs 5 lakh bond, which will mature after five years. It will help their children in the long term," said Kulkarni.
The Committee has also suggested that the state changes norms for the Sanjay Gandhi Niradhar Yojana. This scheme helps widows financially. The current limit under the scheme is Rs 20,000 per annum. Widows with less than Rs 20 thousand per anum income get financial assistance under the scheme. The Committee has asked to increase the amount to Rs 60,000.
The Committee has also demanded Rs 5 lakh for these women from the PM-CARES fund. All organisations and many women sent 1,400 mails to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. But they have not received any response till now.