Notwithstanding its insistence for a year that it has not fudged Covid-19 death figures, the Gujarat Government has finally admitted there is a huge gulf between its official toll of 10,099 deaths and the number of compensation claims it has settled.
But State Revenue Minister Rajendra Trivedi, who is also a government spokesperson, on Tuesday hastened to say the discrepancy “is because the definition of Covid deaths of the Health Ministry and the one fixed by the Supreme Court is different.”
Trivedi, whose department had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court giving details of the compensation claims, said over 38,000 applications had been received so far and “ex-gratia of Rs 50,000 has been distributed to kin of over 22,000 deceased persons.” He added that the government was receiving more applications and all of them would be processed swiftly.
Elaborating on the gap in the numbers, Trivedi told reporters, “The state committee in Gujarat had decided not to count deaths due to heart attack or failure of other body organs to be due to Covid-19 and consider them as separate cases.”
It might be recalled that Chief Minister Vijay Rupani had maintained all along that the government was not counting comorbid patients among Covid-19 according to the ICMR guidelines.
On the other hand, the revenue minister added that, “the Supreme Court ordered that all deaths within 30 days of patients testing positive for Covid-19 should be considered eligible for Rs 50,000 compensation. This has likely caused the numbers to rise, is what I understand primarily.”
Trivedi, however, said, “We are ahead of all other states in disbursing the ex-gratia amount of Rs 50,000 and will ensure that the pandemic victims are paid compensation at the earliest in a simplified manner.”
The Opposition Congress has been claiming that 3 lakh people had succumbed to the dreaded virus and that this was borne out from district-wise death registers since March 2020.