In a massive increase in the number of government employees who died of COVID19 during poll duty, the BJP led UP government has officially accepted that the numbers go way higher than their earlier figure of 74 and are somewhere over 2,000. The government has announced a compensation of 30 lakh INR to the families of the dead employees.
Half of the government employees who died were teachers. Earlier the government had accepted the deaths of only three teachers but after a widespread protest by teachers unions across the state, the criteria for counting covid19 deaths due to poll duty were changed, and subsequently the numbers of those who died changed as well. A state official said that in the panchayat polls, over 11 lakh government employees were put on election duty and among them 65 per cent, over 6.5 lakh, were teachers.
The UP Prathamik Shikshak Sangh had come out with a list of 1,621 primary schoolteachers and other staff, claiming that they died after contracting COVID-19 while performing election duty between April 15 and May 5.
A senior official said of the 600 crores INR sanctioned for paying compensation, the Department of Panchayati Raj had released 300 crores INR to the State Election Commission for disbursement, NDTV reported.
‘We received 3,078 applications for compensation. Of them, 2,020 were found eligible and recommendations to give them compensation were forwarded to the SEC. Among 2020 eligible for compensation, 50 percent are teachers,’ Manoj Kumar Singh, the Additional Chief Secretary (Panchayati Raj) told PTI.
Earlier the Allahabad High Court had reprimanded the UP State Election Commission for conducting elections during the peak of the second wave of COVID19 and had suggested that the state must provide a compensation of 1 crore INR to the affected families.
Under the previous criteria, only the families of employees who died on duty or during travel to and from the place of duty, which factored in a day or a maximum of two, depending on how far the employee traveled, were eligible for the state compensation. When various associations contested the criteria and the govt figures, the norms were changed to include those who had died of the virus within 30 days of their poll duty.
Many families who have lost their members allegedly after contracting virus on poll duty have said that the criteria is still too rigid to help other affected families.