Finances are overloaded, unable to pay 4 lakh rupees ex gratia for Covid deaths: Government | India News
NEW DELHI: With India recording more than 3.86 lakhs of Covid deaths, the Center told the Supreme Court on Sunday that the central government and states, whose finances are overstretched in fighting the pandemic on health fronts , economy and social welfare, could not afford to pay a compensation of 4 lakh rupees to the families of each Covid-19 victim according to the Disaster Management Act.
The Center’s affidavit was filed in the SC in response to its May 24 order directing additional attorney general Aishwarya Bhati to file a response to written petitions filed by advocates Gaurav Bansal and Reepak Kansal seeking compensation from 4 lakh rupees for the families of each Covid-19 victim. according to Section 12 of the DM Law and according to the letter of the Ministry of the Interior of April 8, 2015 that sets the amount of compensation for those who succumb to events classified as disasters according to the law.
The Center said ex gratia amounts will be provided from State Disaster Relief Funds (SDRF), which has been cumulatively allocated Rs 22,184 crore for 2021-22. “If an ex gratia of Rs 4 lakh is given for each person who loses his life due to Covid-19, it is possible that the total amount of SDRF will be spent on this item alone and in fact the total expenditure may still increase. more”. he said in his 51-page affidavit accompanied by another 130 pages covering many welfare schemes and financial packages announced to bring relief to stressed individuals and the economic sector.
As it stands, with India recording 3,86,713 deaths due to Covid-19 on Sunday night, the compensation bill will add up to just under Rs 16,000 crore. Officials said that typically the payments under the DM Act were one-off compensations and not ongoing payments. They also pointed to complications when cataloging post-recovery deaths where the cause may or may not be disease-related.
In its affidavit, the Center said: “If all SDRF funds are consumed ex gratia for Covid-19 victims, states may not have sufficient funds to organize the Covid-19 response, for provision of various essential medical supplies and other supplies, or to attend to other disasters such as cyclones, floods, etc. Therefore, the petitioners’ prayer for ex gratia payment to all deceased persons due to Covid-19 is beyond the fiscal affordability of state governments “.
“The finances of the states and the Center are already under great pressure due to reduced tax revenues and increased health expenditures due to the pandemic,” he said.
“It is an unfortunate but important fact that government resources have limits and any additional charges through ex gratia will reduce the funds available for other health and welfare schemes,” he said and asked the CS to leave it to the discretion of the Center to determine, in any case, what should be the ex gratia amount to pay.
The Center said that the DM Law must also be interpreted in light of the peculiar and unprecedented situation facing the nation.