The Uttar Pradesh government has disbursed over Rs 600 crore as compensation to the families of nearly 2,000 government employees who died after contracting Covid-19 while on panchayat polls duty in the state between April-May during the deadly second wave of the pandemic.
News18 has accessed a state government order dated August 26 transferring Rs 606 crore to the State Election Commission and ordering district magistrates to transfer Rs 30 lakh each to the families of over 2000 state government employees who had died.
“The District Magistrates (DMs) would transfer the money within a week through RTGS in bank accounts of the next-of-kin of the deceased employees,” says the order signed by UP Additional Chief Secretary Manoj Kumar Singh, which was sent to the state election commission and all DMs.
The order has listed the names of all 2128 state government employees who had died after being on panchayat polls duty — 2097 of them due to Covid-19 and 31 employees due to non-Covid reasons. The UP government had initially said very few employees had died due to Covid-19 while on duty during the elections, citing the criteria of the state election commission that death is counted only if it occurred during the time an employee left his house for duty and returned back.
The August 26 order says the government has expanded that criterion on “compassionate grounds” to consider 2128 deaths of employees for compensation. “In the benefit of the deceased employees and on compassionate grounds due to situation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the criteria has been changed to consider deaths within 30 days of the training, polling or counting process of the Panchayat polls,” the UP government’s August 26 order says. This was after a prominent teachers union claimed deaths in April and May of over 2000 teachers and those from various other government departments who were on poll duty and contracted Covid and died after some days.
The August 26 order says Rs 606 Crore is being released to the State Election Commission and another Rs 27.75 crore is being arranged by the government as Rs 633.75 crore is needed to compensate families of 2128 deceased employees with Rs 30 lakh each. Hence, families of 96 employees will have to wait a bit more for getting the compensation.
The Panchayat polls held in the state had come under much fire for being held right in the middle of the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. The Allahabad High Court did not entertain a PIL in April which had sought the postponement of the Panchayat elections and they were held in April and May as per an earlier High Court order.