Covid ex-gratia not 4 lakh but only Rs 50,000

Kashmir Times. Dated: 9/23/2021 1:23:57 AM

NEW DELHI, Sep 22: The Centre on Wednesday poured water on expectations of the families that lost their next of kins in the Covid-19 pandemic, slicing the ex-gratia payment shockingly to a paltry Rs 50,000 instead of Rs 4 lakh prescribed as compensation to the survivors of the disaster victims in 2015 under the national disaster management act.

An affidavit filed by the Home Ministry in the Supreme Court says the ex-gratia shall be paid by the state governments from the respective state disaster response funds (SDRF).

The most betrayed are families of the Corona-19 warriors who died due to the dreaded viral disease while engaged in the relief operations as they too will get the compensation of just Rs 50,000 and not Rs 1 crore given in Delhi by Arvind Kejriwal's AAP government or Rs 50 lakh in many other states as the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) fixed the compensation to all only at Rs 50,000 and that too with the conditions that it is "subject to the cause of death being certified as Covid-19."

On July 22, the Centre had sought four weeks' time from the Supreme Court for the NDMA to finalise the compensation rate, but it sought more time to decide. The NDMA stressed that it is not the compensation but the ex-gratia amount given as a succour to the affected kins to tide over the sudden tragedy in the family.

Though the official tally of those succumbing to death due to Covid-19 is nearly 4.46 lakh, the government has put checks in deciding who actually gets the ex-gratia help as it feared the number of casualties may shoot up to a mind-boggling figure if the amount fixed is high.

NDMA has stated that the District Disaster Management Authority shall disburse the funds to the next of kin of the deceased. It further stated that in case of grievance regarding certification of death as a COVID-19 death, a committee at the district level would propose remedial measures including issuance of amended death certificates.

The affidavit said the ex-gratia assistance to the families affected by the Covid-19 deaths will continue for the deaths that may occur in future phases of the Covid-19 pandemic as well.

All claims are to be settled within 30 days of submission of the required documents and the disbursement will be through the Aadhaar-linked direct benefit transfer.

On June 30, the apex court had given six weeks to NDMA to form the guidelines, leaving it to the wisdom of the NDMA to decide the ex-gratia amount as a minimum standard of relief in response to the petitions filed praying for the compensation of Rs 4 lakh as fixed in 2015.

Pertinently, the Court had held that the minimum standard of relief is mandatory and not discretionary under Section 12 of the Disaster Management Act.



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