Gujarat has officially accepted 10,000 more deaths caused by Coronavirus in their list of compensation paid to the families who lost a loved one to the pandemic. The list was submitted today in the Supreme Court, which asked the state government to make wider efforts to spread word about the scheme so the common man and those living in remote villages get to know about it.
The figures provided by the Gujarat government have pushed up the countrywide fatality count by 2 per cent. The total number of deaths in the state is now 19,964, up from the earlier figure of 10,098. The total number of Covid deaths in India today is 4.85 lakh
Gujarat has received 34,678 applications for the Rs 50,000 compensation and payments have been made only in 19,964 cases.
“Unless wide publicity is given, the common man and those living in villages will not be able to get information on how to apply online,” the court said, emphasizing the need to provide wider publicity to the issue.
When the Gujarat government said it is using the All-India Radio (AIR) as a medium, the court scoffed. “Who listens to the All-India Radio,” questioned Justice MR Shah who was part of the two-judge bench hearing a petition on delays in payment of compensation in deaths due to Covid.
“Why isn’t there any advertisement in local newspapers? How will you tell the common man? They are waiting for Rs 50,000. There should be proper advertisements in all newspapers, Doordarshan and local channels with all details,” Justice Shah added.
In October, the Supreme Court had approved the payment of Rs 50,000 to the families of people who died of Covid-19, to be paid over and above the amounts paid by the Centre and state under various schemes.
But data from only Maharashtra and Gujarat has been available so far and they were the two states heard at today’s short hearing. The rest of the states are yet to file their affidavits.
The court said that it was “unfortunate” that Maharashtra – hit the hardest by the pandemic — has paid compensation only for 8,000 of the 87,000 applications it received. The court has asked the state government to speed up the process.
The Maharashtra government said it would pay out the compensation in 50,000 applications by December 30. But that was not acceptable to the court, which directed the state government to handle the remaining applications within a week.
During the last hearing on December 6, the bench of Justices MR Shah and BV Nagarathna was upset over the affidavit filed by the Maharashtra government.
“Over 1 lakh deaths have been recorded in Maharashtra but only 37,000 applications were received. Not a single person has been paid compensation yet,” Justice Shah had said, calling it “ridiculous” and unacceptable.
The next hearing in the case is on December 15.