In 2020, Samarpit lost his father in the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. Soon after, he dealt with the demise of both his grandparents, just months before the devastating second wave took away his mother, leaving him as the guardian of his siblings Prachi and Priyanshu, who are now 13 and 14 years old.
Three years since the tragedy, Himanshu is now grappling with the harsh realities of life.Despite having 12 bigha of agricultural land, he faces the daunting challenge of clearing outstanding sugarcane dues to the tune of Rs 35,000.
Soon after TOI reported Himanshu’s plight in 2021, the UP government promised him a grant of Rs 4,000 per month for each sibling, but the money has not reached him for the past eight months. To add to the burden, his electricity bills for using a tube well have remained unpaid for the past three years, now piling up to Rs 62,000, a staggering amount for him.
Eager to pursue education, Himanshu enrolled in a government school and is now in Class XII, but attending classes is a luxury he can seldom afford. Meanwhile, Prachi and Priyanshu attend an English medium school where despite there being no fees, the outstanding bus transportation charges of Rs 3,000 each month is a financial strain.
Reflecting on his predicament, Himanshu lamented, “The administration has been helpful, and the electricity department hasn’t pressured me for immediate payment, but for how long can this continue? With rising dues, unpaid sugarcane bills and other expenses, I’m hanging on by a thread.”
Teenager forced to play role of ‘parent’ for younger siblings
The burden Himanshu carries extends beyond the role of an elder brother; he is now playing a “parent” to his school-going sister and brother.
Himanshu faces the additional challenge of limited access to funds, with only a monthly withdrawal limit of Rs 10,000 from the bank account due to his minor status. Government support, which was credited every six months until last year, is now overdue by eight months. Funds are dwindling for Himanshu.
Prachi, a student in class XI, has her share of daily struggles. “It’s good that I have learned to cook, but when we are in a hurry to go to school, my older brother prepares breakfast for us. However, I make sure I cook dinner to compensate for his struggle. He is also involved in farming and takes care of animals, so he doesn’t have any time for himself,” she said.
There is a glimmer of hope for Himanshu for the near future. Shamli district probation officer Anshul Chauhan said just 10 days ago the state government had allocated a budget for Covid orphans.
The verification process is underway, and once completed a monthly stipend of Rs 4,000 will be promptly disbursed to their accounts. However, there is no official comment from the electricity department regarding the outstanding bill.