Telangana govt in tight spot over claims for Covid ex-gratia

The moot question is how many people died of Covid-19 but not mentioned it as the cause of death in their certificates

HYDERABAD: It seems both the state government and the kin of people who succumbed to Covid-19 are in the horns of dilemma over Rs 50,000 each ex-gratia amount to be distributed among the eligible.

Guidelines have been issued by the state revenue department about the amount to be given to the relatives of those who died of Covid-19, but there is confusion over the actual number of Covid deaths. There are 3,967 deaths recorded officially in the state till November 10. Of these, 44.31 per cent are due to Covid-19 and 55.69 per cent are due to co-morbid conditions according to the state medical bulletin.

Though the number of deaths due to the pandemic is only 3,967 according to official data, the question remains if the government would consider the claims of many others that are not shown in the records as it might increase the number of actual deaths in the state.

Going by the records of municipal corporations, it has been noted that in 2020, there was a 54 per cent increase in issuing of death certificates in the state. Between 2018 and 2019, death certificates issued by municipal corporations varied from 16 to 20 per cent.

During the pandemic, there was a huge rise in the number of deaths and in most of these cases, death certificates recorded the causes of death as heart attack, stroke, diabetes and other ailments. As Covid-19 deaths were considered as a social stigma, relatives of many deceased persons did not want Covid-19 as the reason for the deaths to be mentioned in certificates as it created issues in burial and cremation.

The funds are to be issued from the State Disaster Response Fund. The district collectors will approve the claims and Aadhaar-linked direct benefit transfer procedure is to be followed.

The guidelines state that those who want to avail the ex-gratia must apply online and the district collector must approve the claim and disburse the amount within 30 days.

Those who apply online have to submit the death certificates, hospital records and details of the kin claiming the amount.

But the moot question is how many people died of Covid-19 but not mentioned it as the cause of death in their certificates. Officially, the number of deaths is only 3,967 and will the government consider the claims of others and increase the number of deaths in the state.

Sai Mani Varun, a petitioner in the High Court seeking post mortem on the bodies of those who died of Covid-19 says, "With testing of dead bodies is not allowed, it is a challenge as the real beneficiaries will not be able to claim the ex gratia. The death certificates have a different ailment as cause of death."

Another important factor is whether these district committees will increase the number of deaths and will show an overall increase in Covid-19 deaths in the state.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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