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Karnataka: 5 regions account for over 44% of Covid compensation pleas

BENGALURU: In Karnataka, which has reported 40,063 Covid-19 deaths so far, 58,753 families have applied for death compensation. Of these, 50,007 have received relief as of May 13. Payment has failed for 5,325 applications over bank details, and 3,421 are awaiting approval.

As per data accessed by TOI, of the 58,753 applications, 29,466 were among the 40,063 deaths recorded by the health department.

Remaining 10,597 families have not shown interest or have no legal heirs. The other 29,287 applications are from families whose members' deaths have not been officially recorded. District special committees have now declared them as Covid-19 deaths.

The other 29,287 applications are from families whose members' deaths have not been officially recorded as caused by Covid. These applications have been accepted after special committees formed at the district level scrutinised and declared them as Covid-19 deaths.

An official from the pensions department overseeing compensation distribution in Karnataka said: "After the government decided to give compensation, we found several applications from families whose deaths were not officially recorded by the health department. The government decided to even look at these cases. Subsequently, committees were formed and compensation has been given in cases that said committees declared as Covid deaths."

Committees were formed based on a January 10 government order (TOI has a copy) allowing giving compensation to families outside of health department records.

A breakup of the data shows that five districts/regions - BBMP limits in Bengaluru, Belagavi, Mysuru, Tumakuru, and Vijayapura - account for more than 44% of all applications. As a result, they also have a high share of applicants who've received the compensation too.

TK Anil Kumar, principal secretary, health, said the government has started the process of including these deaths into the official record. "Cases that the committees have declared as Covid deaths will be included. However, there is a process that needs to be followed and that is going on," Kumar said. This would mean the state could add at least 29,287 more deaths to the official figures, taking the total toll to 69,350.

As reported by TOI earlier, all families of Covid victims must get Rs 50,000 per death in their family from the Centre, disbursed by the state through direct benefit transfer (DBT). Below-poverty-line (BPL) families will get this Rs 50,000 and an additional Rs 1 lakh per family from the state government.

If there is one death in a BPL family, it will get Rs 1 lakh from the state and Rs 50,000 from the Centre. If there are three deaths, then it will get Rs 1.5 lakh from the Centre and Rs 1 lakh from the state. All non-BPL families will only get compensation as announced by the Centre.

Of the 29,466 applicants claiming compensation for deaths recorded by the health department, nearly half - 14,410 applicants - were from BPL families. These have got relief from both the Centre and the state government.

However, the pensions department official said BPL classification is done only for cases recorded by the health department. As on date, with the health department yet to include the additional 29,000+ applications in its records, they're eligible only for Rs 50,000 from the Centre.

Advocate Clifton Rozario said: "The move to include more families is welcome. However, the government must, first, include even these deaths in the official records soon. Denying BPL families from this set of applications the additional compensation is unfair; they too must get the state government compensation."