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Thursday, October 21, 2021

Explained: How Karnataka govt plans to disburse Covid-19 compensation to kin of victims

The Karnataka state government, during the tenure of B S Yediyurappa as its chief minister, had announced a death compensation of Rs 1 lakh each to below poverty line (BPL) families that had lost their earning member to the pandemic.

Written by Ralph Alex Arakal , Edited by Explained Desk | Bengaluru |
Updated: September 30, 2021 7:42:32 am
Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai with Health and Family Welfare Minister K Sudhakar at a meeting to discuss Covid-19 situation in the state. (Photo: Twitter/@BSBommai)

With 37,763 people in Karnataka reported to have died due to Covid-19 (as of September 28) since the beginning of the pandemic, the government is now “in the process” of verifying and disbursing ex gratia amounts to the kin of the victims.

What has the Karnataka government promised as compensation?

The Karnataka state government, during the tenure of B S Yediyurappa as its chief minister, had announced a death compensation of Rs 1 lakh each to below poverty line (BPL) families that had lost their earning member to the pandemic. But it has not been disbursed yet. While the announcement was made on June 14 by the CM, an order specifying guidelines to claim the same was issued on July 8.

What do the state government guidelines say?

The guidelines issued by the Karnataka government, which government officials say was also based on the recommendations made by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to the Union home ministry, beneficiaries had to provide a “Covid-19 positive report from a recognised laboratory” which should have been uploaded to the ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) portal, with a patient number, among others, to claim the compensation.

However, families in which deaths occurred at homes without the patients getting a Covid-19 test done or being admitted in hospitals for Covid-like symptoms were not considered eligible for the compensation.

In addition, the state government specified that the ex gratia amount of Rs 1 lakh will be available only for one person in every BPL family even if multiple deaths have occurred.

“We (Government of Karnataka) have decided to consider the family as a unit. The fact that people aged under 18 would not be the ‘sole breadwinner’ of any family was considered to specify that the scheme would not cover victims aged under 18 years of age,” Tushar Girinath, principal secretary of the revenue department (disaster management) told The Indian Express.

What does the revised order mentioning the compensation amount from the Centre say?

The revised order, taking into account the NDMA recommendations made to the home ministry, results in an enhanced coverage to the compensation scheme to the kin of Covid-19 victims in Karnataka.

This would result in BPL families being eligible to claim Rs 1.5 lakh as compensation in total in the event of the death of its sole breadwinner due to Covid-19. While Rs 1 lakh will be disbursed through the Sandhya Suraksha Scheme by the state government via district administrations, Rs 50,000 will be paid through the SDRF funds as per central government guidelines.

This means that the kin of all victims, irrespective of their financial status (BPL, APL), age, or role in the family (sole breadwinner or not) will be eligible to claim Rs 50,000 each for each death in the family due to Covid-19.

“However, documents, as specified earlier, to prove the death was due to Covid-19 and to certify the legal heir to whom the compensation shall be credited, should be submitted to the authorities. Upon verification, the process to release the amount will be initiated,” the Karnataka revenue secretary clarified.

Why is the process to distribute the compensation delayed in Karnataka?

Even though the government order announcing Rs 1 lakh ex gratia amount was issued on July 8, the process could not be initiated until September 23 due to “procedural delays,” as stated by Health and Family Welfare Minister K Sudhakar in the state legislative assembly last week.

Elaborating on this, Girinath said delays in the declaration by legal heirs and a possible “conflict between the schemes announced by the state and the central governments” were obstacles for the state government in completing the process.

However, the distribution was symbolically launched by Revenue Minister R Ashoka as he handed over cheques of Rs 1 lakh each to 16 BPL families in Bengaluru last Thursday. The minister announced that the government had received 7,729 applications till then.

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