BENGALURU: Families of most Covid warriors in the state have received compensation, but the kin of around 170-gram panchayat (GP) staffers are yet to get any ex-gratia or jobs on compassionate grounds.
The majority of the victims were panchayat development officers (PDOs), bill collectors, watermen and data entry operators. To fight for the cause of these families, the Karnataka Rajya Grama Panchayat Sadasyara Maha Okkuta is staging a dharna at Freedom Park on December 12 where members from 6,012 GPs from across the state are taking part, said Okkuta president Kadashettihalli Satish.
The RDPR Department on June 28, 2021, had ordered the setting up of an ‘ashwasane nidhi’ (a relief fund) at the zilla panchayat level to pay compensation of Rs 30 lakh to the kin of each deceased. The ZPs were asked to contribute Rs 10 lakh and taluk panchayats (TPs) Rs 5 lakh towards the fund. But almost all ZPs and TPs expressed their inability because of the paucity of funds. GPs too were asked to contribute Rs 50, 000 to Rs 3 lakh, depending on their revenue.
“The department imposed this on GPs that are facing a financial crunch as they have to meet their expenses, including electricity bills that are huge. As GP employees are appointed by committees headed by concerned ZP CEOs, it is the responsibility of the government to pay the compensation which hardly comes to Rs 50 crore for 170 victims,” said Satish.
Except for 15 families in Belagavi, Udupi, Shivamogga, Davanagere and Tumakuru, who got compensation ranging from Rs 15 lakh to Rs 20 lakh, none of the other Covid deceased got any relief, said PDOs’ Association state president H Boraiah.
“The families of these deceased GP workers are in distress, but have got no backing from the government,” he said. RDPR Additional Chief Secretary in-charge Uma Mahadevan told TNIE that she is unaware of the issue as she has just returned from her official visit to the UK and will soon address it.
In October, then ACS LK Atheek and Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai held separate meetings and had promised to resolve the issue.