Policemen in coronavirus fight have no insurance

States using CM Relief Fund to compensate victims’ families

April 22, 2020 11:17 pm | Updated 11:17 pm IST - New Delhi

Safety net: Policemen sanitising their hands in a COVID-19 containment zone in New Delhi on Monday.

Safety net: Policemen sanitising their hands in a COVID-19 containment zone in New Delhi on Monday.

In the absence of a specific Central insurance scheme for policemen and paramilitary personnel who may die from coronavirus ( COVID-19 ) infection while on duty, the States are customising policies for the frontline workers.

On March 29, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare announced the ‘Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package : Insurance Scheme for Health Workers Fighting COVID-19’. The package provides an insurance cover of ₹50 lakh to around 22.12 lakh public healthcare providers, including community health workers, who may have to be in direct contact and care of COVID-19 patients and who may be at risk of being impacted by this. The Ministry said that the insurance would also include accidental loss of life on account of contracting COVID-19 to the healthcare professionals and would be over and above any existing insurance scheme.

Since the Central package does not include policemen who are working on the frontline, the States are using the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund or other budget heads to compensate the families of those who die on duty. Punjab said it would pay ₹50 lakh from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund to the family of Assistant Commissioner of Police Anil Kohli (52), who died in a Ludhiana hospital on April 18. The State Cabinet approved an insurance policy in this regard.

Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh have also announced similar relief measures for police personnel.

After the death, the Punjab Cabinet approved an insurance policy that would provide ₹50 lakh cover to policemen in the unfortunate event of death.

On April 20, the Andhra Pradesh government announced ex-gratia compensation of ₹50 lakh from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund to the family of Assistant Sub Inspector S. Habibullah, who was on COVID-19 duty and died due to ill-health.

On April 8, the Uttar Pradesh government announced an insurance cover of ₹50 lakh for police personnel.

In Madhya Pradesh, at least two police officers have died of COVID-19 and around 30 are affected by the virus.

“Police are at the forefront; they are the ones assisting the medical teams in tracing contacts of the COVID-19 affected patients and also providing food and relief to thousands. They [police] are the first point of contact and on some occasions have also come under attack. Yet they are not covered under the Central scheme,” a senior police officer said.

A Home Ministry official said policemen were covered under the usual insurance scheme and all the States, including Delhi, were providing an ex-gratia of Rs. 50 lakh in case of death.

The paramilitary or the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) personnel who are killed on duty are entitled to ₹60 lakh ex-gratia relief but no specific policy has been announced by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for COVID-19 related deaths.

On March 14, the MHA issued an order to treat COVID-19 as a “notified disaster” for the purpose of providing assistance under the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF). The SDRF is the primary fund available with the States for responses to notified disasters by meeting the expenditure for providing immediate relief to the victims. The Centre contributes 75% of the SDRF allocation for the general category States and Union Territories, and 90% for the special category States such as Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir).

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