After Supreme Court orders on compensation for Covid-19 victims, the Centre amended provisions for assistance under the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF), enabling states to pay compensation of Rs 50,000 to the next of kin of those who died due to the pandemic.
The Ministry of Home Affairs Friday said it has already approved the release of over Rs 7,400 crore to 23 states as second installment of the Centre’s share in the SDRF for this purpose. The order in this regard was issued on September 25.
“Government of India had issued an order…revising the items and norms of assistance under the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF), making therein a provision for grant of ex-gratia payment to the next of kin of the deceased due to Covid-19. This enabling provision in SDRF norms has been made so as to implement the guidelines issued by National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) on 11.09.2021 in compliance with the order passed by Hon’ble Supreme Court…dated 30.06.2021,” an MHA statement said.
The ministry said the step will facilitate state governments to have enough funds in their SDRF. It said the ministry has approved release of the “2nd Instalment of the Central share of the SDRF amounting to Rs 7,274.40 crore, in advance, to 23 states”. It also said 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, including state’s share, during the financial year 2021-22, in addition to the amount of opening balance available in their SDRF, to meet the expenses for granting ex-gratia to the next of kin of the deceased due to Covid-19 and for providing relief on other notified calamities,” the statement said.
On September 22, the Centre submitted before the Supreme Court that the kin of those who died of Covid-19 will get Rs 50,000 compensation from the state governments. The court was also informed that the compensation will be paid for any future deaths as well. The government told the top court that states will source the funds from their disaster response funds and will channel it through the District Disaster Management Authority or the district administrations. The disbursement is to be made following claims by next of kin of the deceased and the claims are to be finalised within 30 days.
This was in response to a plea filed in the Supreme Court seeking Rs 4 lakh ex-gratia payment to families of Covid victims. The Centre had said that paying Rs 4 lakh as compensation to each victim’s family is not possible as it will dry up SDRF funds. The top court had then ruled that compensation must be paid to the family of those who succumbed to Covid-19 and had said the amount will be decided by the Centre. It had asked NDMA to frame guidelines in this regard.