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SC gives chief secretaries of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar a piece of its mind over tardy Covid relief

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NEW DELHI:  Appalled at the slow pace of disbursal of Covid ex-gratia by a few states despite multiple directions, the Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the chief secretaries of Bihar and Andhra Pradesh to appear before it, stating people cannot be left at the mercy of the executive.

The court directed states to share complete details about the number of Covid deaths as well as information uploaded on the Bal Swaraj Portal with  their respective State Legal Services Authorities. It also directed states to go by the information uploaded on the Bal Swaraj Portal to offer compensation and rehabilitation to all children orphaned by the virus.

While Andhra Pradesh’s official records show 14,471 Covid deaths, after the Supreme Court’s orders in June and October to pay Rs 50,000 ex-gratia, the state received 36,205 claims as on January 16. But compensation had been given to only 11,464 so far.

A bench of justices M R Shah and Sanjiv Khanna said, “It is unfortunate that despite our earlier directions... there is total callousness and negligence on part of Andhra Pradesh... It is unfortunate that directions of this court are taken so lightly. Your chief secretary and chief minister are not above law. People are not at your mercy. This is an order by the court and you are not obliging us by following it,” the bench said.

In the post-lunch session, both Andhra Pradesh Chief Secretary Sameer Sharma and his Bihar counterpart Amir Subhani appeared. By then, Andhra had updated its figures. It said it received 41,292 applications in all out of which 34,819 were found eligible, and 23,835 have already received compensation. Of the 10,984 to be paid, 5,141 will get it within three days. Also, the rejected claims will be reviewed suo motu, Sharma assured.

Bihar, too was pulled up for receiving just 11,095 claims. The bench felt the state had not done enough to communicate the scheme to the people. It refused to accept that Bihar’s official Covid toll was 12,090. The state’s recorded toll as on March last year was 3,737. The bench also rapped Gujarat, Maharashtra and Jharkhand for low disbursal.

Slap on Kerala’s wrist
While Telangana had officially recorded 3,993 deaths, it received 28,969 claims. In contrast, Kerala’s official toll is 49,300 but has just 27, 274 claims. “What is this going on in Kerala? Why are there so few claims? Why cannot officials reach out to the family or the kin for compensation? Let your people find out the families of victims,” the bench said

(THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)

124 Days ago