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Provide Authentic Data of COVID Deaths: Debabrata Saikia to CM

Guwahati: The Leader of Opposition at the Assam Legislative Assembly Debabrata Saikia in a letter to the Chief Minister of Assam has demanded the authentic data of Covid deaths and compensation of Central Govt share of Rs 3 lakhs to be paid to the families affected by Covid deaths.

In the letter, Saikia wrote, “The welfare model of our Constitution provides our citizens with the basic right to education, health, and other essential services. Along with this, our Constitution also empowers every citizen to claim these as their Constitutional rights from the State.”

He added that on September 11, 2021, the Central Government of India submitted a detailed affidavit in Supreme Court mentioning that it will pay only Rs.50,000 as ex gratia to the families of those affected by the 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 State in 75%-25% respectively.

The Covid-19 pandemic heavily affected the majority of the population in this country. People died untimely deaths, businesses have shut down, people have been forced to migrate. Families have lost their earning members and the out-of-pocket treatment expenses incurred in private hospitals during the pandemic have brought them to the streets. Families have lost all their savings and are in huge debts.

He added, “At such difficult times, the meagre amount of Rs. 50,000 as ex-gratia compensation is insufficient. The central government has argued that giving 4 lakhs as compensation would leave the government with insufficient capital to deal with COVID 19 itself. We cannot understand how, the Central Government continues to collect taxes through rising petrol prices and provide tax relaxation to corporates, but can deny any such relief to the citizens.”

“Further, after Covid-19 was notified as a disaster under the NDMA by the Central Government, your Government put down several norms and restrictions upon the citizens to ensure containment of the spread of the virus”, he added.

Saikia also said that lockdown was instilled, people were heavily fined for not wearing masks and for not abiding by the Covid-19 protocols but the norms of assistance, also mentioned uncommitted, as ex-gratia payment of 4 lakh compensation has not been met.

“As a welfare state, it is our responsibility to look after our citizens during times of need. We demand that the Central Government implements its earlier order notified on date 14th March 2020, (33-4/2020-NDM-1) issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, where the Central Government made a commitment of disbursement of ex gratia payment of Rs. 4 lakhs per deceased”, he added. 

Later the Central Government revised this notification and reduced the ex-gratia payment to Rs. 50,000. 

“We feel at such times of distress it is imperative that special consideration should be made to fulfill the earlier commitment of 4 lakhs by the Government”, he added.

The SDRF norms require 75% of the 4 lakhs, which is 3 lakhs to be paid by the Central Government, and the remaining 25%, which is 1 lakh by the State Government.

The leader of opposition also added that they appreciate that the State Government has given ex-gratia payment of Rs. 2.5 Lakh. “But we demand that steps to be taken with the Central Government to give the Central share of Rs. 3 Lakhs as ex-gratia to the family of the deceased so that it pushes the Central government to fulfillment of its commitment to the affected citizens”, he added/

The Leader of Opposition also raised a demand of revising the Covid-19 death register with immediate effect. “Negligence and inefficiency of the government during the first and second wave of the pandemic has cost several lives lost. In addition to that, the government has gone to great lengths to hide the actual death numbers caused due to Covid19. We demand a detailed survey to create an authentic Covid19 death register so that all those excluded can rightfully access compensation”, his letter to the CM stated.

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