Delhi govt gave ex-gratia amount to only 8 families of healthcare workers, reveals RTI

In August 2021,Delhi govt stated that it had given Rs 1 cr compensation to 17 healthcare workers. In February 2022, Manish Sisodia announced that the govt will give the compensation to 13 families

A COVID hospital ward during the second wave
A COVID hospital ward during the second wave

Ashlin Mathew

Though 177 healthcare workers died due to Covid-19 in the national capital according to government records, only eight healthcare workers have been given the promised ex-gratia amount of Rs 1 crore in these two years. The Delhi government, at various times in two years, has stated they have provided the compensation to 17 and 13 families.

According to the response under the Right to Information Act, the Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi stated that they received 40 applications for the ex-gratia amount, of which eight were approved, 26 were pending and six applications were rejected. This compensation is separate from 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.

The Delhi government, instead has been releasing contradicting information. In August 2021, in a response to a query under the RTI Act, the Delhi government stated that it had given Rs 1 crore compensation to 17 healthcare workers including doctors, teachers and sanitation staff. In February 2022, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had announced that the Delhi government will give the ex-gratia compensation of Rs 1 crore to families of 13 health care workers.

Delhi govt gave ex-gratia amount to only 8 families of healthcare workers, reveals RTI
Delhi govt gave ex-gratia amount to only 8 families of healthcare workers, reveals RTI

Recognising the work of the healthcare workers during the Covid-19 pandemic in the capital, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, in April 2020, had announced compensation of Rs 1 crore for families of healthcare workers who died while on Covid-19 duty. Kejriwal had highlighted that all the healthcare workers were no less than soldiers protecting the country.

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 during discharge their duties, their family would be paid an ex-gratia of amount Rs one crore.

However, two years down the line, these have proven to be empty words.

Twenty months after the compensation announcement, the Delhi Cabinet approved the forming of a group of ministers led by Sisodia and included Health Minister Satyendra Jain and Revenue Minister Kailash Gahlot. The recommendations from this GoM would be sent to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for approval.

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.

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 May 2021 after contracting the disease while on Covid-19 duty at Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Hospital, got the compensation a couple of weeks ago. This happened after his 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.

The Delhi Nurses Federation (DNF) secretary general Liladhar Ramchandani had pointed out that DNF had written to the government about the compensation for two years, but the government had been insensitive to healthcare workers.

National Herald reached out to the Delhi government, however no response was received. This article will be updated, if and when the government responds.

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Published: 14 Mar 2022, 5:45 PM