Even after being pulled up by SC, J&K fails to ensure clearance of all pending cases

Compensation to family members of persons died due to COVID
*Maximum pendency in Jammu, Nodal Officer not appointed

Mohinder Verma

JAMMU, July 2: Even after being pulled up by the Supreme Court, the Government of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir is not showing any keenness in disbursal of compensation to the family members of those persons who died due to Coronavirus (COVID-19). Moreover, Nodal Officer has not been appointed till date for coordination with all the concerned agencies in the early clearance of the compensation cases.
In pursuance to the guidelines issued by National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) following the Supreme Court order dated June 30, 2021 in two Writ Petitions, the Government of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir vide Order No.83 dated November 29, 2021 accorded sanction to the adoption of the scheme for granting claim to the next of kin of those persons who died due to COVID-19 pandemic.
It was mentioned in the order that family member of each person died due to COVID-19 will be given Rs 50,000 compensation and the implementation of the scheme will commence immediately. All the Deputy Commissioners were directed to put a robust but simple mechanism in place for disbursement of the ex-gratia assistance based on the process and procedure mentioned in the order.
As per the official figures, a total of 4483 persons died because of COVID-19 in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and more than 1500 cases are still pending in several districts for clearance mainly because of non-serious approach of the concerned officers in the offices of District Magistrates. “Majority of the pending cases pertain to the Jammu district while as in other districts of the Union Territory the number is very less”, official sources told EXCELSIOR.
The inordinate delay in disbursal of compensation is notwithstanding the fact that Supreme Court has a number of times pulled up the State/UT Governments. Even in the month of January this year, the Apex Court expressed serious concern over the failure on the part of Governments to disburse compensation to the families of COVID-19 victims in a timely manner and asked such Governments to intensify their efforts in reaching out to and compensating the families.
“Even after the latest directive of the Apex Court, the J&K Government has not passed directions to the District Magistrates of those districts which are dilly-dallying on clearance of compensation cases”, sources further said, adding “the administration of such districts is not showing any keenness in implementing the order of the Government and directions of the Supreme Court even after availability of full assistance from the Legal Services Authorities”.
All this clearly indicates that Government of J&K UT doesn’t have any sympathy towards those who lost their family members because of the pandemic, sources said, adding “the Supreme Court has simplified the procedure regarding disbursal of compensation through its directives passed in two Writ Petitions till date but despite this more than 1500 cases are still pending and this is really a big question mark on the performance of authorities assigned the task of clearing the cases”.
The Apex Court had also directed that a Nodal Officer not below the rank of Deputy Secretary should be appointed for coordination with the concerned authorities in the districts as well as with the Legal Services Authorities but this directive too has not been implemented till date.
“Even the repeated communications from the Legal Services Authorities to the concerned officers in the districts for expediting the process for clearance of pending cases have not been taken seriously”, sources informed, adding “the prevailing situation establishes that no robust mechanism was put in place by the Deputy Commissioners for disbursement of ex-gratia assistance, the thrust on which was laid in the Government order dated November 21, 2021”.
“This is the high time for the Chief Secretary to convene a meeting for holding deliberations on reasons behind pendency of compensation cases so that families affected due to COVID-19 can get the ex-gratia, which otherwise is meager”, sources stressed.