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Vikash Sharma

Senior Congress leader Narasingha Mishra on Saturday shot off a letter to Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik urging the latter to consider a revision of the of the ex-gratia amount given to the family of those died of COVID-19.

In the letter, Mishra stated that the Ministry of Home Affairs in March, 2020 made a commitment for disbursement of ex-gratia payment of Rs 4 lakh per deceased. Later, the Central government revised the notification and reduced the ex-gratia amount to Rs 50,000.

It is pertinent to mention here that on September 11, 2021, the Central Government submitted an affidavit in the Supreme Court mentioning that it will pay only Rs 50,000 as ex-gratia to the families of those affected by Covid-19 pandemic through the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF). Under the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), the compensation amount is shared by the Centre and states in 75 per cent-25 per cent basis.

“We feel at such times of distress, it is imperative that special consideration should be made to fulfil the earlier commitment of Rs 4 lakh by the government,” wrote Mishra in his letter.

The letter further said, “The SDRF norms require 75 per cent of the 4 lakhs, which is 3 lakh, to be paid by the Central Government and remaining 25 per cent (Rs 1 lakh) by the State government. We demand that you commit upholding the State governments’ share of the Rs 4 lakh ex-gratia payment so that it pushes the Central Government to fulfil its commitment to the affected citizens.”

In the letter to Odisha CM, Mishra further wrote, “We demand revisiting the Covid-19 death register with immediate effect. Negligence and inefficiency of the government during the first and second waves of the pandemic has cost several lives. In addition to that, the government has gone to great lengths to hide the actual death numbers caused due to Covid-19. We demand a detailed survey to create an authentic Covid-19 death register so that all those excluded can rightfully access compensation."

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