Uttar Pradesh issues fresh guidelines for claiming Covid death compensation
The Uttar Pradesh government late Wednesday issued a fresh set of guidelines stating that a compensation of ₹50,000 must be paid to the next of kin of each patient who died of Covid-19 in the state.
According to the guidelines issued by additional chief secretary Manoj Kumar Singh, the scope of what constitutes a Covid-19 death has also been widened to include patients who died within 30 days of a positive Covid test or within 30 days of them being clinically ascertained to be Covid positive, both in-facility and outside.
The guidelines also include patients who were in hospital/in-patient facility for a period of 30 days but died later, after being discharged. It also said if a death due to Covid is not indicated in the death certificate, it should not hinder the compensation process as documents such as the RT-PCR/rapid antigen test/clinical determination through investigation will be sufficient to make a successful claim.
The district officials said the latest order, with a broadened scope to determine eligibility, will increase the number of applications from families claiming Covid deaths.
The state’s directions came in the wake of a petition filed by advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal, a resident of Ghaziabad, before the Supreme Court. On October 4, the court passed an order making ex gratia payments mandatory. While passing the order, the a bench of justices MR Shah and BV Nagarathna said: “...it can be presumed either no wide publicity has been given by the concerned states or UTs with regard to the compensation offered for death of a person who had died due to Covid-19 or the concerned claimant is not made aware where to apply.”
According to the state control room figures, Uttar Pradesh recorded 22,911 Covid deaths till November 30. These include 461 deaths in Ghaziabad and another 467 in Gautam Budh Nagar.
According to the government’s submission to the Centre, the state received 3,071 applications for compensation, against the 22,898 deaths reported till November 26. It added that an amount of ₹541.5 lakh was disbursed as ex gratia to 1,083 families and the remaining claims are being processed.
“The Supreme Court constituted a grievance committee on my petition. The purpose of the said committee is to provide a platform to those families who believe that their family member(s) died of Covid-19 but because one reason or the other, they could not get a Covid death certificate,” said Bansal.
“If a family succeeds in its claims, then definitely the state’s tally of Covid deaths will increase,” he said.
Officials of the Ghaziabad district administration said the latest guidelines is likely to increase the number of applications seeking ex gratia.
“We are expecting more people to apply for compensation as the scope of deaths has been broadened for awarding compensation. It is now up to the state officials whether they will correspondingly increase the official Covid death toll or not,” said Ravi Srivastava, additional district magistrate (finance and revenue), Ghaziabad.
However, district magistrate of Gautam Budh Nagar Suhas LY said the guidelines may not impact the Covid death toll much. “The guidelines issued have a broader scope for the deaths but it seems that it is for the purpose of awarding compensation. It may not increase the overall death count as such,” he added.
Health experts said there could be patients who died after testing negative for Covid-19.
“If the guidelines have increased the scope of deaths, then there is every possibility that more applications will pour in. Further, there is no harm if the death count increases. If families of such patients get compensated after ascertainment of death due to Covid, such cases should be included in the death toll,” said Dr Ashish Aggarwal, former president of the Indian Medical Association (Ghaziabad).