TODAY -

Nominal monetary solace to Covid victims' families
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: September 24, 2021 -



IT'S apparent that not many families of the Covid victims would be satisfied with the Union government recommending ex-gratia compensation of Rs 50,000 each as the said amount is drastic reduction from the Rs 4 lakh each proposed in the PILs filed by advocates Gaurav Kumar Bansal and Reepak Kansal, who sought the Supreme Court's intervention for providing monetary relief to the distraught families.

That the sum recommended by the Centre would not be digestible to next of kin of the victims could also be comprehended from the fact that the amount generally paid as ex-gratia in case of train/bus accidents or natural disasters like floods/earthquakes varies from at-least Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh.

As such, it is certain that even if the victims' families do not hold grudge against the government over the seemingly pitiable compensation amount, the proposed amount would be accepted with a heavy heart, especially by the economically underprivileged section of the society.

Moreover, in view of the Centre finally agreeing to pay the ex-gratia compensation subsequent to the top court's insistence after initial rejection of the proposal, the victims' families would naturally perceive that receiving at-least some sort of monetary solace for the loss of their loved ones to the pandemic is not egregious as many are certain to have spent heavily during the hospitalisation period.

These families would also understand that with India seeing loss of over 4.45 lakh lives since the onset of the contagion, increasing the compensation amount would significantly drain the nation's coffer.

Interestingly, as the amount is to be distributed by states from the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) subject to cause of death being certified as Covid-19; in a small state like Manipur, with comparatively minuscule annual SDRF allocation, the payment formalities might trigger controversies in case the authorities act indifferently.

As per the prescribed guidelines, the District Disaster Management Authority would disburse the amount on receiving a form issued by the state authority in this regard along with the death certificate while a committee formed at district level would oversee redressal of grievances, and record clear reasons if it is not in favour of the claims.

Regardless of the guidelines specifying that the 'DDMA will ensure that the process of claim, verification, sanction and the final disbursement of the ex-gratia payment would be through a robust yet a simple and people-friendly procedure,' Manipur has a history of official file process depending on the mercy and mood of the dealing personnel and officials.

Therefore, one could only hope that officials concerned would act with compassion and ensure that all claims are settled within 30 days of submission of the required documents and disbursed through Aadhaar linked direct benefit transfer procedure as had been laid down in the guidelines.

As the state has already recorded cumulative deaths of over 1800, relevant processes need to be initiated with diligence and full transparency in order to avoid possible confrontation between the aggrieved families and the officials entrusted with the responsibility of dealing with the contemporary society's most sentimental issue.



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