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India to pay over P34,000 to families of those who died of COVID-19

By PINKY S. ICAMEN Published Oct 05, 2021 4:57 pm

India’s Supreme Court approved on Oct. 4 the government's ex-gratia compensation scheme to pay 50,000 Indian rupees or approximately P34,000 to families of those who died of COVID-19.

It also asked its 29 states to release the funds within 30 days of family members’ submission of claims. Families need to submit documents, including death certificates, for them to claim the monetary compensation.

As tens and thousands of people may have died at home and their families may not have acquired a death certificate or their death certificate did not mention they died of COVID-19, the court ordered that no state should deny the ex-gratia compensation on the sole ground that the death certificate does not mention COVID-19 as the cause of death.

With this concern, the court said the district authorities will take remedial steps to have the cause of death corrected.

Family members perform the final rites of their loved one who died of COVID-19 in an open crematorium in Bangalore, India in April 2021. Photo by Manjunath Kiran / AFP

Compensation will also be given to families of those who succumbed to the virus who were involved with relief operations or activities that are related to dealing with the pandemic.

The scheme is extended to the families of those who died by suicide within 30 days of suffering from COVID-19.

According to the court ruling, the ex-gratia assistance will also be available to those who will die of the virus in the future phases of the pandemic.

As of this writing, official COVID-19 deaths in India is at 449,000 but according to reports, the unofficial numbers are likely to be much higher.

The move came after a petition filed in May by lawyer Gaurav Kumar Bansal, who initially sought 400,000 rupees (approximately P272,400) compensation for the family of each individual who died of COVID-19.

The petitioner pointed out that that as the government declared the COVID-19 pandemic as a disaster, it is required by law to provide compensation to those who died due to the virus in view of India’s Disaster Management Act of 2005.

The Central government told that Supreme Court in June 2021 that the 400,000 rupees compensation cannot be paid keeping in mind the “rational, judicious and optimum usage of resources of the nation.” However, it recommended the amount of 50,000 rupees instead, which will come from the State Disaster Relief Funds. 

Parts of India resulted to cremating its dead on open-air grounds with mass pyres as the country was hit with a deadly second wave of COVID-19 in May 2021. Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP

India experienced a deadly COVID-19 second wave in May, where the country of 1.38 billion people became the epicenter of the global pandemic. With its total COVID-19 cases at 33.8 million and 449,260 deaths, the country currently sits at the Top 2 of the worst-hit countries in the world, trailing behind the United States with 43.8 million cases and 703,285 deaths.

Recently, India has seen a steady decrease in COVID-19 infections as more vaccines are given to its citizens. As of this writing, over 906 million doses have been administered, and more than 246 million of its citizens have been fully vaccinated.