Family members of deceased Covid-19 patients have filed multiple claims for the ex-gratia of Rs 50,000. Out of 1.35 lakh applications for ex-gratia received in the last 12 days, nearly a third are duplicates as more than one family member of a patient has applied for the compensation.
After strictures were passed by the Supreme Court, the Maharashtra government started disbursing the ex-gratia to the kin of Covid-19 deceased patients on December 9. Till Monday evening, nearly 10,000 families were given ex-gratia out of 1.35 lakh applications.
Till December 20, 1.42 lakh people died of Covid-19 in Maharashtra, the highest in India.
An official from the state relief and rehabilitation department told The Indian Express that in nearly 50,000 of the total claims, more than one family member had claimed compensation.
“We are observing that over 70% of the total applications are legitimate, but the remaining are duplications. So, over 50,000 of the kin of Covid patients are yet to apply for ex-gratia,” said the officer.
In one case, the parents and wife of a 31-year-old homeopathic doctor from Mumbai, who died due to Covid, have filed separate claims for compensation. “He was married only for a year, so legally, we should get the amount for our survival as he was the sole breadwinner of the family,” said the father.
As there is no clarification of the definition of ‘next to the kin’ in the Centre’s guidelines, the amount will be provided chronologically as per the applications received. “If any kin files a complaint, then legal action will be taken against the beneficiary. So, all the applicants have been asked to submit no-objection certificates from the family members,” said the officer.
The duplication in applications has put additional pressure on surveillance officers, who have to again cross-check all applications.
“Apprehensive about whether the earlier application was recorded, many families have submitted it again. This is also causing duplication,” said Dr Nikam, civil surgeon from Amravati.
The state is expecting that this week, applications will increase further. “We have already contacted over 50,000 of the families of the Covid deceased patients through contact details from the Co-WIN app. For those who have already applied, we have taken their application number for scrutiny. Nearly 20,000 applications are in the process of approval,” said Aseem Gupta, principal secretary, relief and rehabilitation department.
The department is also expecting the applications to exceed the state’s recorded total fatality figure. “There are several Covid-19 patients who died at home and don’t have novel coronavirus mentioned on their death certificates. So, counting such unrecorded patients, there will be 10,000-20,000 additional applications for compensation,” said the officer.