Union Minister for Tourism, Culture and Development of Northeast G. Kishan Reddy, on Sunday, said it is upto the respective state governments to gather and update data on the births and deaths and “there is no reason for the Centre to hush up the number of deaths during the COVID pandemic”.
“In our federal system, it is the states which collect such data and the Centre only makes a consolidated number for the entire country. Since I was in the Home Ministry earlier, I can tell you the Centre does not have the power to increase or decrease mortality numbers of any state. There is also no need to do so,” he asserted at a press conference at the party office.
“We will take to the notice of the respective state government any discrepancy that is brought to our notice for it to take a decision. Prime Minister Narendra Modi does not visit Gandhi Hospital to check the records,” he remarked and claimed that many prominent people have made many “outlandish” claims about the number of deaths during the pandemic and on bodies floating on the Ganga river.
Mr. Kishan Reddy’s main agenda was about the launch of the ‘Sahay Mitra’ certificates to be issued to about 4,348 children across the nation, orphaned due to the death of parents during the pandemic from Monday. The Prime Minister has decided to adopt these children chosen from among 9,000-odd applications and whetted by the district collectors and the police, he said.
Till they reach the age of 23, these orphaned children will be provided monthly financial assistance, priority admissions into educational institutions, even private schools and later colleges, loans to study abroad with interest to be borne by PM CARES with ₹10 lakh to be deposited in each of their names in the banks,” he said.
A separate portal will be launched for the scheme and the district collectors have been made guardians for these children. Stipends will be paid to the children irrespective of where they are staying with money deposited directly into the bank accounts and they will also be eligible for financial assistance from existing welfare schemes of other ministries like ₹4,000 per month, ₹50,000 for those pursuing technical education course and so on. Plus each child will be provided with a ₹5 lakh Ayushman Bharat card, he explained.
The Minister will also be participating in another programme on May 31 here at the district collectorate where beneficiaries of the ‘PM Kisan Sanman’ programme will be contacted and their feedback will be taken with Mr. Modi himself launching the programme nationwide from Shimla in Himachal Pradesh. About ₹20,000 crore is to be transferred to the farmers countrywide on the day, he said.
The hitherto-‘neglected’ Northeast has received a fillip with ₹4 lakh crore investments. Road link has been established connecting capitals of these states and soon a rail link will be connecting them, with four getting the railway lines already, while new airports have been set up, said Mr. Reddy.
He also spoke about the Central Government’s achievements in the fields of highways construction, toilets, distribution of free or subsidised foodgrains for the poor, free COVID vaccination and so on in the last few years without facing a “single charge of corruption and no major law and order issues”.