Odisha CM urged to hike ex-gratia amount to Rs 4 lakh for kin of COVID victims

Bhubaneswar: Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Narasingha Mishra has shot off a letter to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik proposing him to consider revision of ex-gratia amount for family of those died of COVID-19, to fulfill the Union Government’s earlier commitment of Rs 4 lakh.

In the letter, the senior Congress leader said the pandemic has heavily affected majority of the population in the country. Several people have lost all their savings and are in huge debts. At such difficult times, the meagre amount of Rs 50,000 as ex-gratia compensation is insufficient, he stated.

In March, 2020,the Ministry of Home Affairs had made a commitment of disbursement Rs 4 lakh ex-gratia for kin of every deceased. Later, the Centre revised the notification and reduced the ex-gratia amount to Rs 50,000.

“We feel at such times of distress it is imperative that special consideration should be made to fulfill the earlier commitment of Rs 4 lakh by the Government. We demand that you commit upholding the state Governments’ share of Rs 4 lakh ex-gratia payment so that it pushes the Centre to fulfill its commitment to the affected people,” said Mishra.

The State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) norms require 75 % of the Rs 4 lakh, which is Rs 3 lakh, will be paid by the Central Government and remaining 25 %, (Rs 1 lakh) by the state Government, the letter read.

“On September 11, 2021, the Centre submitted a detailed affidavit in Supreme Court mentioning that it will pay only Rs 50,000 as ex-gratia to the families of those affected by the COVID-19 through the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF). Under the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA),  the compensation amount is shared by the Centre and State in 75%-25% respectively.”

The central Government has argued that giving Rs 4 lakh as compensation would leave the Government with insufficient capital to deal with COVID-19.

“We cannot understand how the Central Government continues to collect taxes through rising petrol prices and provide tax relaxation to corporates, but can deny any such relief to the citizens,” the CLP leader questioned.

The CLP leader also demanded revision of COVID-19 toll with immediate effect.

“The Government has gone to great lengths to hide the actual death numbers caused due to the virus. We demand a detailed survey to create an authentic COVID-19 death register so that all those excluded can rightfully access compensation,” he said.

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