New Delhi:

The government on Saturday announced a string of measures, including a pension for dependents of those having lost their lives due to COVID-19, among other benefits for the families who lost their earning members to the pandemic.

Besides family pensions, insurance benefits under the Employees'' Deposit-Linked Insurance (EDLI) scheme have been enhanced and liberalised. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said these steps will help mitigate financial difficulties faced by these families.

Modi said his government stands in solidarity with these families.

To help these families live a life of dignity and maintain a good standard of living, the benefit of the Employee State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) pension scheme for employment-related death cases is being extended to even those who have died due to Covid, the PMO said in a statement.

Dependent family members of such persons will be entitled to the benefit of pension equivalent to 90 per cent of the average daily wage drawn by the worker as per the existing norms.

This benefit will be available retrospectively with effect from March 24 last year and for all such cases till March 24, 2022.

The enhancement of insurance benefits under the EDLI scheme will in particular help the families of employees who have lost their lives due to the pandemic, the PMO said.   The amount of maximum insurance benefit has been increased from Rs 6 lakh to Rs 7 lakh, and the provision of minimum insurance benefit of Rs 2.5 lakh has been restored and will apply retrospectively from February 15, 2020 for the next three years.

To benefit families of contractual and casual workers, the condition of continuous employment in only one establishment has been liberalised, with the benefit being made available to families of even those employees who may have changed jobs in the last 12 months preceding his death, it said.

Detailed guidelines of these schemes are being issued by the Ministry of Labour and Employment, the PMO added.

In a tweet, Modi said, "Family Pension under ESIC and EPFO- Employees’ Deposit Linked Insurance Scheme will provide a financial cushion to those families who have lost their earning member due to COVID-19. The Government of India stands in solidarity with these families." 

Meanwhile, on the eve of his government's second anniversary in its second term, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday announced a number of welfare measures for children who lost their parents to Covid-19, including ensuring a corpus of Rs 10 lakh when they turn 18 and providing for their education.

Chairing a meeting to deliberate on steps that could be taken to support such children, he said they will be supported under the "PM-CARES for Children" scheme.

The PMO said in a statement that fixed deposits will be opened in the names of such children, and the PM-CARES fund will contribute through a specially designed scheme to create a corpus of Rs 10 lakh for each of them when he or she reaches 18 years of age.

This corpus will be used to give monthly financial support or stipend from 18 years of age for the next five years to take care of his or her personal requirements during the period of higher education. On reaching the age of 23 years, they will get the corpus amount as one lump-sum for personal and professional use.

While announcing these measures, Modi emphasised that children represent the country's future and the government will do everything possible to support and protect them so that they develop as strong citizens and have a bright future.

"The PM said that in such trying times it is our duty, as a society, to care for our children and instil hope for a bright future. All children who have lost both parents or surviving parent or legal guardian/adoptive parents due to Covid-19 will be supported under ‘PM-CARES for Children' scheme," he said, according to the statement.

Highlighting measures for their education, the PMO said children under 10 years will be given admission to the nearest Kendriya Vidyalaya or in a private school as a day scholar.

Those between 11-18 years of age will be given admission to any central government residential school such as Sainik School and Navodaya Vidyalaya. In case the child remains under the care of a guardian or extended family, then he or she will be given admission to the nearest Kendriya Vidyalaya or in a private school as a day scholar.

If the child is admitted to a private school, fees as prescribed under the Right to Education Act norms will be given from the PM-CARES fund, and it will also pay for expenditure on uniform, textbooks and notebooks, the PMO added.

For higher education, children will be assisted in obtaining education loan for professional courses or higher education in India according to existing norms. The interest on this loan will be paid from the PM-CARES fund.

As an alternative, scholarship equivalent to the tuition fees or course fees for undergraduate and vocational courses will be provided to them under the central or state government schemes.

For children who are not eligible under the existing scholarship schemes, PM CARES will provide an equivalent scholarship.

All children will also be enrolled as a beneficiary under the Ayushman Bharat Scheme, or Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY), with a health insurance cover of Rs 5 lakh. The premium amount for these children till the age of 18 years will be paid by PM-CARES, it said.

Modi said the measures being announced have only been possible due to the generous contributions to the PM-CARES fund which will support India's fight against Covid-19.

As many as 577 children across the country were orphaned after their parents succumbed to Covid-19, Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani had said earlier this week citing reports of states and union territories from April 1 till May 25.