On Wednesday, The Ministry of Home Affairs informed the Supreme Court that states would provide the payment of ₹50,000 each as ex gratia assistance to the families of those who died of COVID-19.
Recommended by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), this scheme will allow compensation for deaths that have already occurred and the future ones. Those who succumbed to the virus while involved in relief operations and preparedness activities will also receive assistance, the Centre said in its affidavit.
State governments provide the money from their respective Disaster Response Funds (SDRF), distributed by the District Disaster Management Authority or the district administration to concerned families.
The Apex Court, on June 30, based on a petition filed by advocate Gaurav Bansal, had directed the National Disaster Management Authority to frame and recommend guidelines for providing ex-gratia assistance to next kin of those who lost their lives due to COVID-19 as mandated under Section 12 (iii) of the Disaster Management Act of 2005. Following this, the authority submitted its guidelines on September 11.
On Wednesday, the government filed an affidavit before the Supreme Court about compensation as per the NDMA guidelines. The guidelines stated the payment of ex gratia as a “continuous scheme”.
“The ex-gratia assistance to families affected by COVID-19 deaths will continue to be provided for deaths that may occur in the future phases of the COVID-19 pandemic as well, or until further notification,” the NDMA said. “Compensation will be given to families of even those deceased who were involved in Covid relief operations or associated in preparedness activities.”
Following Health Ministry guidelines, the cause of death needs to be certified as COVID-19.
The concerned families then have to submit their claims through a form issued by the state authorities and specified documents, including death certification.
The district disaster management authorities will then work on the claim, verification, sanction, and disbursal process while making sure it is smooth for the people concerned. “All claims must be settled within 30 days of submission of the required documents and disbursed through the Aadhaar-linked direct benefit transfer procedures,” the Centre’s affidavit had said.
For Grievances, people will get directed to district-level committees comprising Additional District Collector, Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH), Additional CMOH/Principal or HOD Medicine of a medical college (if one exists in the district) and a subject expert.
These committees will look into the suitable measures, like issuance of amended official document for COVID-19 death, after verifying facts as per the Health Ministry and ICMR guidelines. “In case the decision of the committee is not in favour of the claimant, a clear reason for the same shall be recorded,” the affidavit said.
Some states have already announced compensation for families who have lost members to Covid. These include Bihar (Rs 4 lakh per family), Madhya Pradesh (Rs 1 lakh), and Delhi (Rs 50,000).
According to a PTI report, Kerala CM Pinarai Vijayan said that while the states cannot entirely distance themselves from assisting, a significant share should also come from the Centre.
He further said that the Centre has reported it has no role in nursing, but it should be ready to provide the necessary help in delivering the ex-gratia to Covid-19 victims.
As per the data on September 23, 282 deaths in the last 24 hours have taken the total number of fatalities in the country to 4.46 lakh.