Reconsider decision to hold Chintpurni mela: HC to govt

Vijay Arora

Shimla, August 12

The High Court has directed the government to re-consider its decision to organise Maa Chintpurni Sawan Mela in Una district as a large congregation of devotees may act as a catalyst for the spread of Covid-19. The court also directed the government to consider it, preferably by tomorrow.

To be held on Aug 16

Chintpurni Sawan Mela will be held on August 16

A Division Bench of Acting Chief Justice Ravi Malimath and Justice Jyotsna Rewal Dua passed the orders on a PIL and other petitions, highlighting inadequate facilities and infrastructure to deal with the pandemic.

During the course of hearing, the amicus curiae contended that as the government had closed schools again by reviewing its earlier decision, Maa Chintpurni Sawan Mela going to be held on August 16 should also be suspended for the time being as lakhs of devotees would visit the temple.

However, the counsel for the state defended the decision saying that the DC, Una, had taken a conscious decision and this was not a mela in the true sense, as devotees were permitted only to visit the temple and all other activities had been suspended.

The court observed that "keeping in mind the precarious situation, it would be appropriate if the government re-examines the issue and takes a decision in the larger interest of the public and to ensure that the pandemic does not cause any further damage".

The government counsel informed the court that so far, 20 children had been orphaned due to Covid and 19 of them had been placed under foster care in their extended families. They were entitled to a financial assistance of Rs 4,400 per month; Rs 2,500 per month is given to the foster parents for the maintenance of the child and Rs 1,500 per month is being given as RD in the name of the child till he/she attains the age of 18.

He said that one child was eligible for availing of family pension from the government, hence he could not be placed under foster care. He stated that 717 semi-orphan children had been identified, who had lost one of the parents due to Covid.

At present, there was no provision under the foster care scheme for providing financial assistance to semi-orphan children. However, out of the 717 children, 37 had been covered under Mother Teresa Asahaya Matri Sambal Yojana under which Rs 6,000 per child is paid every year.

Only semi-orphan children are covered under this yojana who had lost their fathers due to Covid but their mothers were alive and their family income does not exceed Rs 35,000 per annum. The counsel submitted that the government would make more efforts to offer a better standard of living to these children.

Courtesy: Tribune News Service

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