THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In what could be a major relief to hundreds of poor families who had lost the sole earning member to Covid, the state cabinet on Wednesday decided to provide Rs 5,000 per month for three years to each such family as part of a special financial assistance scheme. This will be in addition to Rs 50,000 one-time solatium given to relatives of all Covid victims as per the Supreme Court directive.
The scheme to provide financial assistance to all BPL families which have lost the sole earning member will also include deaths happened outside the state, including in foreign countries. That means, expatriates from poor families who had lost their lives owing to Covid will also be covered by the scheme, provided their families are in Kerala and in the BPL category.
The money will be distributed as direct money transfer to the account of the first dependant for three years.
According to the Central government data, 3,570 Indians died abroad due to Covid so far and over 3,000 of them were in the Middle East countries. A follow-up on expatriate deaths by NORKA Roots found that over 1,000 Keralites had died because of Covid in overseas countries till July, a period when the fatality was high. As on Wednesday, 26,573 Covid deaths have been reported in the state and an addition 7,000 deaths that were omitted will be added to the list in the coming days.
Covid relief release within 30 days of application receipt
A 28The cabinet also decided to fix the criterion in such a way that financial status of the family, exempting the deceased member, will be taken into account by the revenue authorities to decide whether the family is below the poverty line or not. That means, if the single earning member dies and others in the family are jobless or minors, the family will be classified as BPL if there are no other sources of income.
Families availing social welfare or welfare fund board pensions will not be disqualified from getting the relief. Village officers have been directed to ensure that there is no government employee or income tax payer in the beneficiary family when verifying the application. The decision is likely to cause huge financial implications for the government though it has not made an assessment yet.
The application process will be launched soon and the beneficiaries shall give an application in a single page to avail the relief. The government will entrust district collectors and other revenue officials to set up mechanisms to receive the applications. The fund will be released within 30 days of receiving the application. It has been directed not to inconvenience the applicants by calling them to the office of the official concerned.
The money will be released from the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund till the government makes separate budget allocation for the same. The decision to award additional relief came at a time when there was demand from various quarters to consider the socio economic background of families in awarding the additional relief. In the assembly, the opposition UDF had asked the government to utilise the money collected for vaccine challenge for the distribution of the relief.