RTI response calls out Kejriwal’s lie on compensation to kin of ‘Corona warriors’
The Delhi government had approved Rs 1 crore compensation promised by it to only 17 families of health workers who died as a result of handling COVID-19 patients, reveals its response to an RTI query
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who has always termed his political successes as “a victory for truth and honesty” and has been projected by his party as the epitome of integrity, has evidently now given up even trying to pretend to do the right thing.
A recent response sought under the Right To Information Act dated September 30, 2022, has revealed that the Delhi government approved the Rs 1 crore compensation for families of health workers who died handling Covid-19 patients to only 17 such families.
On September 27, Kejriwal had tweeted that the sum has been sanctioned for “28 Corona warriors”. A statement released by the Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government said it must be “noted that prior to this the Delhi government has given the same ex-gratia to families of 31 corona warriors”. This brings the total number of applications for the compensation to 59.
According to the statement, the decision to approve the additional 17 applications was taken in a meeting of the group of ministers chaired by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.
However, according to the RTI response received by activist Kanhaiya Kumar, the government received only 54 applications, of which it approved 17, rejected seven even as 30 cases were pending.
Government records state that 177 healthcare workers died due to Covid-19 in the national capital. Earlier RTI responses had revealed that 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 said that all the healthcare workers could be equated with soldiers who were protecting the country. In recognition of their services, the Delhi government had announced the Rs 1 crore compensation.
The AAP supremo had said that there were others too who were looking after COVID 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 Rs 1 crore,” he had said.
According to a circular released on May 13, 2020, if 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 Rs 1 crore.
Though it was announced in 2020, the committee to decide on the compensation was formed only in 2022 after the nursing staff across government hospitals in Delhi protested the delay in January 2022.
Finally, on February 1, 2022, twenty months after Kejriwal’s announcement, the Delhi cabinet approved the forming of a group of ministers led by Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, comprising Health Minister Satyendra Jain and Revenue Minister Kailash Gahlot. This committee was to examine cases and send the recommendations to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for approval.
By June 2022, the Kejriwal government in Delhi had disbursed the sum to only 16 families.
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.