Having all along refuted sustained media reports that the State was playing down the Covid-19 crisis, the Gujarat Government has admitted that the official death toll of 10,099 and the number of compensation claims don’t match.
State Revenue Minister and government spokesperson Rajendra Trivedi on Tuesday told reporters that the discrepancy in the numbers could be because of the definition of Covid deaths of the Health Ministry and the one fixed by the Supreme Court is different.
The minister, whose department had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court giving details of the compensation claims, that over 38,000 applications had been received so far and “ex-gratia of Rs 50,000 has been distributed to kin of over 22,000 deceased persons.”
Giving an explanation, Trivedi told reporters, “The state committee here had decided not to count deaths due to heart attack or failure of other body organs to be due to Covid-19 and consider them as separate cases.” It might be recalled that Chief Minister Vijay Rupani had maintained all along that the government was not counting comorbid patients among Covid-19 according to the ICMR guidelines.
The Revenue Minister added, “The Supreme Court ordered that all deaths within 30 days of patients testing positive for Covid-19 should be considered eligible for Rs 50,000 compensation without considering anything else. This has likely caused the numbers to rise, is what I understand primarily.”
Trivedi, however, hastened to say, “We are ahead of all other states in disbursing the ex-gratia amount of Rs 50,000 and will ensure that the pandemic victims are paid compensation at the earliest in a simplified manner.”
The Opposition Congress has been claiming that 3 lakh people had succumbed to the dreaded virus and that this was borne out from district-wise death figures since March 2020.
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