Centre Amends Provisions, Families of Covid Victims will get Compensation of Rs 50,000

A medical worker works on the preliminary blood test of people tested for COVID-19 at the Chulalongkorn University Health Service Center in Bangkok, Thailand, April 2, 2020. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

Following the Supreme Court order on compensation for COVID-19 victims, the Center amended assistance provisions under the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF), enabling states to pay Rs 50,000 as compensation to the next of kin of those who died due to the pandemic. The Home Ministry on Friday said it had approved the release of over Rs 7,400 crore to 23 states as the second instalment of the Centre’s share in SDRF for the purpose. An order in this regard was issued on September 25.

“The Government of India had issued an order…revising the items and norms of assistance under the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) with a provision for grant of ex-gratia to the next of kin of the deceased due to COVID-19. . This enabling provision has been made in the SDRF norms to implement the guidelines issued by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) on 11.09.2021 in compliance with the order passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court,” an MHA statement said.

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The ministry said the move would facilitate the state governments to keep adequate funds in their SDRFs. It added that the ministry has “approved the release of the second instalment of the central share of SDRF, Rs 7,274.40 crore, to 23 states in advance”. It also said that an amount of Rs 1,599.20 has already been released to five states.

“The State Governments will now have an amount of Rs 23,186.40 crore in their SDRF during the financial year 2021-22, which includes the State’s share, in addition to the opening balance available in their SDRF, to meet the expenses of the earlier grant. In addition, to provide relief to the next of kin of the deceased due to COVID-19 and on other notified calamities,” the statement said.

On September 22, the Center submitted before the Supreme Court that the next of kin of those who died of Covid-19 would get Rs 50,000 as compensation from the state governments. The court was also told that payment would also be paid for any future death. The government said the top court that states would source the funds from their disaster response funds and channel it through the District Disaster Management Authority or the district administration. The following claims are to be disbursed by the deceased’s next of kin, and the claims are to be finalized within 30 days.

This was in response to a petition filed in the Supreme Court seeking an ex-gratia of Rs 4 lakh to the families of the Covid victims. The Center had said that it was impossible to pay Rs 4 lakh as compensation to each victim’s family as it would dry up the SDRF fund. The top court had then ruled that the families of the victims of Covid-19 should be given compensation and said that the Centre would decide the amount. It had asked the NDMA to frame guidelines in this regard.