Covid-19: Delhi govt’s ex-gratia amount given to only 16 families of health workers after 2 years, reveals RTI
After announcing in April 2020 ₹1 cr compensation for families of health workers who died handling Covid patients, Delhi govt has disbursed the sum to only 16 families
After announcing in April 2020 ₹ 1 crore compensation for families of health workers who died handling Covid-19 patients, the Arvind Kejriwal government in Delhi has disbursed the sum to only 16 families out of the 50 applications received as on June 2022. Close to 177 healthcare workers died due to Covid-19 in the national capital according to government records.
According to the response under the Right to Information Act, the Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi stated that they have got 50 applications, of which 27 applications are pending, 6 have been rejected and one has been kept pending due to family dispute. The last cheque was disbursed by the Delhi government on April 30, 2022.
The compensation offered by the Delhi government is in addition to the help announced by Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) and that under Mukhyamantri Covid-19 Pariwar Aarthik Sahayata Yojna.
This information has come to light in responses to queries sought under the Right to Information Act by a rights activist Kanhaiya Kumar.
RTI responses have shown that as per available records with the Delhi government, 56 doctors, 13 nurses, 16 paramedical staff and 92 safai karamcharis died after contracting Covid-19 while on pandemic duty.
In April 2020, Kejriwal had highlighted that all the healthcare workers were no less than soldiers protecting the country and recognising their service, ₹ 1 crore compensation was announced. He had said that there were other people too who are looking after corona patients - policemen, civil defence volunteers, teachers and fire service personnel. “If anyone contracts coronavirus and dies while attending to corona patients, their families will also be given ₹ 1 crore,” said Kejriwal.
According to a circular released on May 13, 2020, any person including doctors, nurses, para-medical staff, security/sanitation staff, or any other government employee including the police, whether temporary or permanent employee or contractual in any government or private sector, deployed for Covid-19 duties by Delhi government expired by contracting the disease while on duty, their family would be paid an ex-gratia of amount rupees one crore.
Twenty months after the announcement of the compensation, the Delhi Cabinet approved the forming of a group of ministers led by deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia and including Health Minister Satyendra Jain and Revenue Minister Kailash Gahlot on February 1, 2022. This committee examines cases and sends the recommendations to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for approval.
The delay in providing compensation to the family of healthcare workers had led the nursing staff across government hospitals in Delhi to protest the pending payment in January 2022. The nurses union had pointed out that the family of Rajkumar Agarwal, who died in April 2021 after contracting coronavirus while on Covid-19 duty at Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Hospital, got the compensation only in April 2022. This happened after his wife Meenal Agarwal initiated a public appeal for payment of the ex-gratia amount. The Delhi government had refused to give a job to her on compassionate grounds stating that there was no such provision to do so.