The Uttar Pradesh government on Thursday suggested that the State Election Commission should modify its guidelines so that more people, including teachers, who died due to COVID-19 during the panchayat poll duty could be given compensation.
The suggestion came amid the demands of compensation raised by teachers’ unions which claimed that 1,621 teachers, educators and other departmental personnel who were on poll duty during the recently concluded panchayat elections in the State had died due to coronavirus.
The unions have demanded a compensation of ₹1 crore each to the families of the deceased and government jobs for the dependents.
However, State Basic Education Minister Satish Dwivedi on Tuesday had rejected the claim and said that according to the established norms, only three teachers had died during election duty.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, in a high-level meeting with senior officials, said usually the government acts in cases relating to deaths during elections as per the guidelines of the State Election Commission, but since these guidelines belong to the time when there was no pandemic, there is a need to relook into such cases sympathetically.
He asked the officials to get a report from the State Election Commission on this count and instructed the Chief Secretary and Additional Chief Secretary to put forward the request of modifying the guidelines in front of the State EC, according to an official spokesman.
"The State Government is ready to provide all the necessary facilities to its employees, especially at a time when they have done election or any other duty. In order to provide proper support to them and their families, the Election Commission should be consulted and requested to make necessary recommendations," Mr. Adityanath told the officials.
"Every death is tragic and the State Government has full sympathy with each employee and his family. The State Government extends compensation and job to one member of the family of its staff dying during polls duty as per the guidelines of the Election Commission, but since the guidelines are out of date and pertain to the time when there was no coronavirus, a fresh sympathetic consideration is required in this regard," he said.
President of Uttar Pradesh Primary Teachers’ Association Dinesh Chandra Sharma had written to Mr. Adityanath on May 16 regarding the deaths of teachers during election duty.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav had accused the State Government of lying about the number of teachers who lost their lives during the election duty to avoid giving them compensation.
During the meeting, the Chief Minister instructed that if a person working in any department under the State Government dies due to coronavirus, the department should extend full sensitivity and sympathy, and no file relating to ex-gratia or any other matter should remain pending.
Noting that many young couples have succumbed to the disease and their children are alone, he said a detailed action plan should be prepared by the Women and Child Development Department for the maintenance and proper care of such kids, the spokesman added.