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The Union government has approved a proposal to provide financial assistance to families of 26 more journalists who lost their lives to Covid-19 in the ongoing financial year, and dependents of each of these journalists will get financial relief of Rs 5 lakh under the Journalist Welfare Scheme (JWS) of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, the government said in a statement on Thursday.

The government has approved the committee’s proposal “to provide financial relief of Rs 5 lakh to each of the families of 26 journalists who died due to Covid-19” in 2021-22 financial year, beginning April. In the last financial year, assistance was given to families of 41 journalists, the statement said.

In a statement, the government said that families of 67 journalists have been given financial assistance since last year.

The JWS committee, which is looking to provide assistance under a Central scheme to families of journalists who have died due to Covid-19, will meet weekly to process the cases expeditiously, it was informed.

Sources said that unlike other schemes for journalists, a Press Information Bureau accreditation is not needed to avail benefits under the JWS.

The statement mentioned that in a “suo motu move”, the I&B Ministry had “compiled and collated details of journalists who lost their lives due to the pandemic in 2020 and 2021 and started a special drive to provide assistance to their families under the Journalist Welfare Scheme”.

“The Press Information Bureau proactively reached out to the families of many journalists who lost their lives to Covid-19 and also guided them about the scheme and filing of claims,” it stated. The committee has decided to hold JWS meetings every week “so that applications for financial assistance under JWS can be processed expeditiously”, the government said.

The committee, headed by I&B Secretary Amit Khare, also includes PIB principal director-general Jaideep Bhatnagar, along with other senior officials and media representatives.

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