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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Covid ex-gratia gap: Central team to randomly screen 5% applications for false claims

As The Indian Express reported on Friday, against the Maharashtra government’s official Covid-19 death toll of 1.47 lakh, the number of applications approved for ex-gratia payment of Rs 50,000 for Covid-19 deaths has exceeded by 23 per cent as of May 1.

Written by Rupsa Chakraborty | Mumbai |
Updated: May 7, 2022 7:35:02 am
covid-19, Covid ex-gratia, Maharashtra, Kerala, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Mumbai, Mumbai news, Indian express, Indian express news, Mumbai latest newsA healthcare worker takes a swab sample of a woman at a school in New Delhi. (PTI Photo)

A CENTRAL team is currently scrutinizing Covid-19 ex-gratia claims in 10 districts in Maharashtra, following the directive of the Supreme Court. Considering the gap in the approved claims and the state’s Covid-19 death tally, the team will randomly screen 5 per cent of the applications to identify false claims.

As The Indian Express reported on Friday, against the Maharashtra government’s official Covid-19 death toll of 1.47 lakh, the number of applications approved for ex-gratia payment of Rs 50,000 for Covid-19 deaths has exceeded by 23 per cent as of May 1. The state has approved 1.81lakh applications for the ex-gratia.

“The team has come this week. It will take some time to conduct the checks as per the apex court directives,” said an officer from state relief and rehabilitation department. On March 24, SC asked the Centre to conduct an inquiry into fake claims for ex-gratia compensation meant for family members of those who died due to Covid. Also, it was instructed to verify 5 per cent of the total claims in four states — Maharashtra, Kerala, Gujarat, and Andhra Pradesh.

“Considering the 5 per cent, the team will have to scan over 12,500 applications. Earlier, the primary focus was on the applications pending or rejecteted by the district grievance redressal cell. But now, they have decided to screen even approved applications,” said the officer.

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The discrepancy between approved applications for ex-gratia and the state’s official toll is because of the Supreme Court’s expansion of the denotation of Covid-19 death.

Last year, the Supreme Court expanded the ambit of Covid deaths in response to a petition filed by advocate Gaurav Bansal for ex-gratia compensation. The court ruled that deaths occurring within 30 days from getting tested or clinically determined as Covid-19 case shall be considered as Covid-19 deaths, even if they happened outside a health facility.

Along with this, the kin of victims of unnatural deaths, such as suicide, who tested positive for Covid posthumously will also be eligible for the ex-gratia.

“Due to this, we believe that many kin have taken advantage of the noble intention, thus raising the number of approved applications. Now, as the Central team is scrutinising the claims and appeals, it may help in bringing more transparency,” said an officer from state relief and rehabilitation department.

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