Tamil Nadu

Govt. cuts ex gratia for frontline staff

The State government has halved the ex gratia of ₹50 lakh announced by Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami for families of front-line workers who die while on COVID-19 duty. The families will now get only ₹25 lakh.

Following the outbreak of COVID-19 earlier this year, the government had announced ₹10 lakh for families of those who die while on COVID-19 duty. Leader of the Opposition M.K. Stalin had demanded that ₹1 crore be sanctioned for the kin. On April 22, Mr. Palaniswami revised the amount to ₹50 lakh. This amount has now been reduced by 50%.

According to sources, a government order (G.O.) was issued on Wednesday, granting ₹25 lakh to family members of each of the 28 government servants who died after contracting the infection while on COVID-19 duty.

Financial reasons

A highly-placed source told The Hinduthat the ex gratia had been halved due to “financial reasons”. The G.O. was issued with the concurrence of the Finance Department.

When contacted, a family member of one of the Greater Chennai Corporation workers, who died while on duty after contracting COVID-19, said that he was not aware of any decision to reduce the ex gratia. “We only know from media reports that the Chief Minister has announced ₹50 lakh each as ex gratia, and we were told to submit relevant documents to authorities concerned, including the legal heir certificate. Officials have not told us how much we will get,” he told The Hindu. His relative is one among the 28 government employees listed in the G.O. issued on August 5.

Controversy over amount

On May 15, the Chief Minister sanctioned ₹50 lakh to the family of a Village Administrative Officer in Tiruchi district, who died in a road accident while returning home from COVID-19 duty.

Subsequently, controversy erupted after only ₹5 lakh was sanctioned for the family of a deceased matron “involved in work related to fighting COVID-19” at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital in Chennai. Doctors’ and nurses’ association had demanded ₹50 lakh for her family.

Civic staff’s plea

The employees of Greater Chennai Corporation have requested the government to give ₹50 lakh compensation to the kin of 13 civic workers who died of COVID-19.

The Corporation employees have also requested the government to release the compensation amount to the families of five workers who were not on the list of those meant to receive the compensation. Most workers who died in the COVID-19 pandemic were conservancy workers. Civic workers in zones such as Royapuram, Manali, Thiru Vi Ka Nagar, Anna Nagar, Adyar and Kodambakkam have died after testing positive for COVID-19 in May, June and July. After the death of conservancy workers in many zones, the Greater Chennai Corporation started taking preventive measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 among conservancy workers.

At least 19,000 conservancy workers have been deployed to clear garbage along 39,000 streets of Greater Chennai Corporation.

Many conservancy workers tested positive for COVID-19 in May and June. Officials claimed that the number of conservancy workers who test positive for COVID-19 has reduced in many wards. Some wards continue to register COVID-19 positive cases among conservancy workers, increasing the risk to residents of the area.

Chief Engineer L. Nandhakumar and many other engineers had tested positive for COVID-19. Mr. Nandhakumar was later discharged from the hospital. A few workers and assistants of the Corporation involved in the Malaria control programme have died of COVID-19. Front-line workers in districts such as Chengalpet, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur have also died of COVID-19.

The Corporation staff complained that health workers, including nurses, who tested positive, were forced to spend more than ₹60,000 in tertiary care hospitals of the government, owing to issues in medical insurance.

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Printable version | Sep 23, 2020 7:21:58 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/govt-cuts-ex-gratia-for-frontline-staff/article32289247.ece

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