Kerala Kaumudi Online
Friday, 03 December 2021 7.28 AM IST

Is life worth only half a lakh rupees?


The Centre has told the Supreme Court that a financial assistance of Rs 50,000 each can be provided to the kin of those who died of Covid. Certainly, the society will react against the inhumane attitude of the government which has set a price of half a lakh rupees for a life. A more generous and broader approach was expected from the centre. The Centre has also stipulated that Covid death assistance should be provided to those who are eligible from the State Distress Relief Fund. The move to place the liability at the head of the state may also be due to the fact that the Center contributes eighty percent of the Distress Relief Fund. There are tens of thousands of families in the country who have been left orphaned and homeless by Covid deaths. The scheme to provide rehabilitation and assistance to children who have lost their parents was earlier implemented following the intervention of the Supreme Court. The court has not yet given a final verdict on the public interest litigation seeking Rs 4 lakh for every Covid death. The government, which initially turned its back on the demand in the petition, decided to consider providing assistance following the court's compelling intervention. In the latest affidavit submitted in this regard, it has been informed that half a lakh rupees will be paid from the Distress Relief Fund for each death.

Needless to say, in the present scenario, how inadequate and despicable this half-lakh subsidy put forward by the government is. It is a fact that the central and state governments had to spend huge sums of money to fight the pandemic. The argument that it would be a significant burden to provide financial assistance to the kin of the deceased is also not unfounded. At the same time, it should not be forgotten that at least part of Covid deaths were due to the government's failure to deal effectively with the pandemic. Since the main duty of the state is to save the life of the citizen in any way, it is their duty to help the needy families in such situations. The official estimate is that more than four and a half lakh people across the country have already died of Covid. This figure itself has been questioned on many levels. The allegation that many of the deaths during the days of the pandemic were unrecorded is also strong. Similarly, many Covid deaths that have occurred outside of hospitals have gone unreported. Many study reports show that the number of deaths in the country is much higher than in government records. Needless to say, it is difficult to attest to the authenticity of all this and apply for funding. In the case of those who have the correct record, action should be taken to provide financial assistance as soon as possible. Not only in terms of procedures but also in terms of funding, the government should be prepared to pay higher rates than what has been announced. It is a relief that the Supreme Court has not yet issued a final order in the case. The Supreme Court has often come to the rescue of a community that has lost its life and livelihood in the pandemic. It is the courts that have helped the people in delivering medical facilities, including oxygen, to hospitals and in the matter of vaccinations. It is to be hoped that the Supreme Court will intervene in the grant issue and make a sympathetic decision.

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