Teachers visiting homes to help with COVID relief

Helping hand: A teacher during her visit to a house at Mukherjee Nagar in the Capital on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: SUSHIL KUMAR VERMA

Around 1 p.m., clutching a temporary identity card from the District Magistrate’s office, 33-year-old Chitra Suyal, a primary school teacher, rang the doorbell of a house and took a step back.

As an elderly woman half opened the door, Ms. Suyal said, “We are from the SDM (Sub-Divisional Magistrate) office for the COVID compensation scheme. We had talked to your son.”

The elderly woman returned to the door with son Navneet Singh, 36, and invited them inside. However, there is one thing that stood out: The family had never applied for the scheme.

Hundreds of teachers like Ms. Suyal are hopping from house to house to get people registered for a scheme to provide compensation for those whose family members have died due to COVID-19.

For non-applicants too

A list of names from the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has been shared by the Delhi government with all 11 districts, and teachers are contacting people in the list to tell them about the scheme and visiting their houses, even if they haven’t applied for it.

They are also visiting people’s houses for verification and helping them fill the form online.

“Initially, we were going to people’s houses only for verification. However, later we reviewed the scheme and to increase the number of people benefiting from the scheme, we started going to houses of people who were on the list, but not yet applied to make them aware about the scheme and help them with the process,” said Isha Khosla, District Magistrate (North Delhi).

Not easy work

Inside the house in Mukherjee Nagar, Ms. Suyal and another teacher Ajay Gaur, 38, waited for Mr. Singh’s younger brother whom they had met on their first visit about two weeks ago.

“First, you have to make a surviving member certificate (SMC), for which each member has to get an affidavit,” Mr. Gaur started explaining the process.

The teachers detailed them the entire process and the specific things to watch out for while filing the application, besides telling them to contact them if they had any doubt.

“My parent had tested positive last year. My father was completely alright and we were worried about mother as she has heart-related ailments. When we decided to move her to a hospital, my father said, ‘I will also get admitted with you to give you company’ and went to the hospital. But, in the end, he died due to COVID-19,” Mr. Singh said.

After they stepped out of the house, Mr. Gaur said, “In the last 10-12 days, this work has picked up speed and more teachers were called to do the visits.”

Ms. Suyal said that she has done close to 90 such visits and it is not that easy every time.

Address and numbers

“In at least 20-30 cases, the address was not properly given in the list and there were no phone numbers. We had to go to the area and ask around to find the address. Tracing people like that becomes difficult at times. But we traced most of the addresses except for three or four,” she said.

The primary school teacher also said that people behave rudely at times.

“In middle class and poor neighbourhoods, people are very cooperative, but in posh areas, many don’t even answer the door. Once, a family was talking from the balcony and I was standing under the sun and responding to them. I felt really bad. Don’t invite us inside, but at least open the door,” she said.

No facilities provided

The teachers are not provided transportation or money for it by the government.

The beneficiaries of the scheme include children, and on August 23, the High Court had said that it “would be unfair to expect children who lost their parents to be able to procure documents and avail benefits” and directed the government to fix issues in the process to get compensation.

The HC had also noted that the government should take a proactive approach rather than taking the applications in a routine way.

“Officers are working overtime and we have cleared most of the applications now,” a Delhi government official said.

“If people come with the affidavits and their ID proofs, then we issue them the SMC on the same day,” said Model Town SDM Rahul Saini. He said that there are currently 15 teams who are doing house visits in his area alone.

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Printable version | Oct 20, 2021 4:57:15 PM |

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