Dharamshala: Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay announced immediate relief of cash amounting to 50 lakhs for the distressed Tibetans who are presently stranded outside their settlements and those who have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 lockdown.
Speaking at the routine COVID-19 press briefing earlier today, Sikyong said around 1000 Tibetans in distress will be provided 5000 rupees each amounting to 50 lakhs through the COVID-19 emergency support fund.
The distress relief is to support those Tibetans who are stranded outside of settlements and those who have lost their jobs and can not afford rents in cities and major towns in India and Nepal.
Any Tibetan who is currently facing such distress could apply for the emergency support fund by filling a form with verification of respective settlement officer. The recipients with their settlement addresses will be published on tibet.net. Click here to download the announcement details and the application form.
As per the directives issued by Kashag as early as on 3 April, the Home Department had issued a directive to all settlement officers to assist Tibetans in distress especially the old and those living below the poverty line.
By April 16, 1000 Tibetans were distributed dry ration and for those above the age of 65 in the BPL list, dry ration were delivered to their houses with the support of the local welfare officers.
Accordingly, on 23 April, Department of Education had announced and begun dispensing relief packages of Rs 2000 to 297 students of below poverty line and Rs 5000 relief for 200 college students including 50 in BPL list.
To make sure that there’s no academic loss to the students amidst the school closure, DOE from early on, starting 7 April, launched daily online classes for students of class 6, 7 and 8. Online course for students of class 9-12 will begin soon.
Sikyong reiterated that CTA has been undertaking relief measures to alleviate the distress faced by Tibetans students and public alike.
Moreover, new measures are to be rolled out in the coming weeks under the various programs of CTA departments. Next week, Sikyong will announce relief support for the distressed Tibetan sweater sellers.
Citing the cases of 50 odd Tibetans stranded in Bodh Gaya, half dozen in hot spring near Manali and 2 in Pathankot, Sikyong said the concerned offices of CTA have already been responding to the distress calls. CTA has distributed immediate relief fund to some of the stranded families and issued thorough guidance for their return to the home states.
“However, their return to home state is not possible till their Nodal officer of respective states issues them travel permits. In the meantime, I urge the Tibetans who are stranded in a similar situation to ask for assistance and contact the Home department immediately,” Sikyong said, issuing an exclusive helpline for those in distress. The helpline numbers are 9366522910, 8974393582 – Additional Sec Dawa Tsultrim and 9816435322, 7018012388 – Migmar Bhuti.
Similarly, in the case of the 83 Tibetan students stranded in Baroda, he said due to the strain in inter-state movement amidst the lockdown and the stringent requirement of Aadhaar card with the registered address of the place of return, the CTA has been facing issues in bringing them back.
Explaining the situation in detail, Sikyong said due to the growing number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Baroda, the students living in college hostels were officially notified to leave the campuses in order to prevent the spread. They were also informed that the hostels would be converted into medical facilities for COVID-19 treatment.
As soon as the issue was brought to the Kashag, Sikyong said the Kashag immediately proceeded in contacting the relevant local authorities both in Dharamshala and Baroda to seek the approval in bringing the students into Dharamshala. The issue was also discussed with the COVID-19 task force and secretaries of departments.
“However, the only barrier was the requirement of Aadhaar Card with the address mentioned of the place of return as per the central government’s mandates for entry into another state. As we assessed the list of 83 students, we found that 33 were from THF Mussoorie, over 20 were from Arunachal Pradesh and 12 students were from Dharamshala,” Sikyong explained.
Hence after the assessment and coordinating with the relevant local authorities, Kashag arranged the necessary transport for the students based on their registered address proof.
“For the 33 students from Mussoorie, we have arranged a bus to bring them from Baroda to Rishikesh where they will be safely placed at our branch school. In case of the 20 students from Arunachal Pradesh, the Arunachal state authority had already issued guidelines to bring back the stranded from the state, therefore, necessary coordination was done. As for the 12 from Himachal Pradesh, and remaining students we are trying to send them to respective states. However, getting the approval of the relevant nodal officer of states is challenging. DOE and Welfare officer of Delhi are trying to bring them to Delhi as Baroda falls under the Delhi Settlement Office jurisdiction.”
Sikyong further clarified that all the expenses of the travel arrangements of the 83 will be borne by the CTA.
With all the travel arrangements made, the next step was to register with the Nodal authorities of the concerned states to receive a permit for interstate travel, which Sikyong explained was challenging.
“According to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs’ revised guidelines, all States/Union Territories had designated nodal authorities to issue the interstate travel permit. However, obtaining the permit is not as simple,” Sikyong clarified.
“As and when we obtain the permits, we will immediately proceed with their evacuation.”
Speaking on a positive note, Sikyong officially announced the upcoming teachings to be given by His Holiness the Dalai Lama on 16 and 17 May.
He said that the appeal was made by Kashag on behalf of Tibetans and millions of Buddhists around the world who would benefit and take renewed strength from His Holiness’ teachings.
Sikyong had also submitted a prayer petition to His Holiness with the names and details of the Tibetans who have died from coronavirus and those suffering from the disease.
“I would like to especially share with the bereaved families and those affected by the disease that His Holiness has seen the names and details and prayed for everyone. So it is indeed a blessing for all of us and I ask all the Tibetans to be at ease,” Sikyong said.
He also said the number of Tibetans recovering from coronavirus was very encouraging and urged people to take hope from it instead of panicking, however, he reminded that precaution is a must.
Finally, Sikyong announced that a complete sanitisation of all the Tibetan settlements will be carried out in the third week of May in view of the rampant spread of COVID-19 infections across India.
“The task force of the Department of Health has directed all settlements to conduct sanitization across the settlements which will take place in the third week of May. All the facilities have been arranged and I urge general public and NGOs to cooperate with local settlements officers, directors of local Tibetan hospitals and the staff,” Sikyong ended his remarks.