Mumbai: Almost Rs1 crore have been recovered so far from at least 200 relatives of Covid-19 victims who had filed more than one application for ex-gratia payouts, the Maharashtra Disaster Management Cell has revealed.
The recovery comes after the State Government directed all district health officers to scrutinise documents submitted for ex-gratia payments and file FIRs (First Information Reports) against the kin if they fail to return the excess collected by them.
A senior official in the Disaster Management Cell said Maharashtra’s Covid-19 toll currently stands at 1.48 lakh, but as many as 2.01 lakh applications for compensation have been cleared and Rs 1,009 crore paid out till Jan 15.
A notification was issued last September directing district collectors to send out notices and recover the excess amounts or, failing that, file FIRs.
The discrepancy between approved applications for ex-gratia payments and the state’s official toll came to light after a Supreme Court directive expanding the ambit of the payout.
“So far we have recovered Rs98.50 lakh from recipients of additional payout across the state, while two or three more have pledged to return the excess, taking the total to Rs1 crore,” the official said. “We expect the numbers to rise as more than 1,000 applications are under scrutiny for duplication.”
The Government had declared an ex-gratia amount of Rs50,000 for relatives of those who died in the pandemic.
According to officials, there are many reasons for applications being duplicated. One major reason is that in some cases the same application was filed in different jurisdictions. Claims for relief were raised twice in many cases and even three times in some.
The senior Disaster Management official said they had so far scrutinised 2,053 applications for additional payouts and the numbers of those returning the excess could go higher.
“Most of them were hesitant to return the additional payout, after which notices were sent through the respective collectorates reminding them of the order issued in September last year of strict action if they refuse to return the money,” the official said.