Covid-19: No ex-gratia provision by Finance Commission

Covid-19: No provision for ex-gratia by Finance Commission, Centre tells SC

The Union government also said there was no policy or scheme at present for national insurance coverage of deaths due to Covid-19

Representative Image. Credit: PTI File Photo

The Union government has told the Supreme Court that though Covid-19 has been notified as a disaster, the Finance Commission did not make any recommendation to grant ex-gratia payment to those who died of the disease.

It also submitted that various state governments are paying ex-gratia to Covid-19 victims, but none are paid from the Disaster Relief Fund.

The Union government also said there was no policy or scheme at present for national insurance coverage of deaths due to Covid-19, nor has there been any deliberation to include the pandemic for risk insurance coverage against natural disasters.

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The Centre clarified the position in written submission to the top court in a couple of PILs seeking four lakh ex-gratia to Covid victims after declaration of pandemic as one of the notified disasters.

The government side-stepped a query by the court whether there was a conscious decision taken by the Prime Minister-headed National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) against framing of a scheme for ex-gratia to kin of those died of Covid-19.

The submission said the central government, on March 14, 2020, by way of a special one-time dispensation, decided to treat Covid-19 as a notified disaster for the purpose of limited assistance towards quarantine, sample collection and screening, procurement of essential equipments, and labs.

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Further, to deal with problems of migrant labourers, it allowed use of state funds on March 28, 2020, for setting up relief camps and to provide food, water, etc to migrant workers and other stranded people. Subsequently, it had on September 23, 2020 further allowed use of funds by the states for oxygen generation for Covid-19 patients, to strengthen transport services for transporting oxygen, and setting up containment zones, Covid-19 care centres.

"Ex-gratia payment under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 is available to persons who have died, in case of 12 notified disasters and other local natural disasters which are notified by the state governments. However, Covid-19 has not been recommended by the XVth Finance Commission for financing of relief measures from SDRMF/ NDRMF, which includes ex-gratia payment," the Union government said.

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