Meghalaya has spent Rs 600 in fight against COVID-19 in last two years: CM Sangma

While Rs 389. 7 crore was spent in 2020, thus far, Rs 260.62 crore has been spent in 2021. He further stated that an additional Rs 221 crore is expected in order to meet the "liabilities".

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SHILLONG:

Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma informed that approximately Rs 600 crore have been spent in curtailing and managing the COVID-19 pandemic in the state in last two years.

While Rs 389. 7 crore was spent in 2020, thus far, Rs 260.62 crore has been spent in 2021. He further stated that an additional Rs 221 crore is expected in order to meet the "liabilities".

In total, 1,258 persons died from COVID-19 between April 1, 2019 up to September 13, 2021 following which, an ex-gratia payment of Rs 50,000 has been made to the next of kin of 514 deceased, amounting to Rs 2.57 crore.

As of now, the next of kin of 744 deceased are yet to be compensated whose banking details are awaited by the respective deputy commissioners. The pending dues amount to an anticipated liability of Rs 3.72 crores, which is expected to increase with new daily deaths.

To assist the efforts of the Community Covid Management Teams across the state, the government has also sanctioned an amount of Rs 5,000 per team to 3,900 teams, which amounts to a total of Rs1.94 crore.

Further, the Chief Minister’s Special Grant (CMSG) was introduced on August 30, 2019 as a component of a special programme to meet the urgent requirement of the beneficiaries which were otherwise unforeseen and not covered by any scheme under the Government of Meghalaya. The grant, which will be available depending on the economic conditions and needs of prospective recipients, will relate to higher education, medical treatment, sports and youth affairs, arts and culture, non-governmental organisations, and partner organisations, as well as local committees, village self-help groups and the society.

Sangma added that the identification and selection of beneficiaries for the grant will be at the discretion of the chief minister, but will not be arbitrary or done in bad faith.

Further, a budget provision of Rs 3 crore was allotted to the state government for 2021–22 in order to meet the expenditure on provision kits, community quarantine centres, transportation of stranded citizens, and accommodation of health workers.

An advance from the Contingency Fund of Rs 15 crores was moved and it requires regularisation. Further, Rs 13.42 crores as additional Supplementary Demand for Grants was allowed to meet committed and anticipated liabilities relating to, among others, ex-gratia payment to the next of kin of those who have perished from COVID-19; Information, Education and Communication activities; and monitoring returnees and quarantined citizens.

 Further, for the year 2020, an amount of Rs 3.13 crore was paid towards the cost of provision kits through the respective deputy commissioners.

 The state government has also partnered with avenues for telecalling services and monitoring of returnees as well as contact-tracing of high- and low-risk contacts and INR 191,797 was spent for this purpose from the grant.

Medical and healthcare workers have been accommodated in government-requisitioned hotels, as most of them do not have adequate space at their residence for isolation after returning from COVID-19 duties. For this purpose, the government expenditure has amounted to Rs10 crore.

The chief minister further informed that the deputy commissioners are entrusted with the responsibility to compile and verify the authenticity of the cause of death. After due verification, the deputy commissioners’ recommend proposals for ex-gratia payment, along with the detailed names and banking details, will be sent to the Chief Minister’s Secretariat for sanction of payments.

The chief minister stressed on anticipated liabilities, which include the following:

(i) During 2020, the government had arranged transportation of and refreshments for stranded citizens from across the country to ensure their safe return. The government had incurred an expenditure of Rs 423,705 payable to Meghalaya Transport Corporation.

(ii) During 2021, the government incurred an additional expenditure of Rs 2.7 crores towards accommodation of medical and healthcare workers.

(iii) During 2021, the government has sanctioned Rs 5,000 for Community Covid Management Teams. However, 924 teams (505 in East Khasi Hills and 419 in West Khasi Hills) are yet to be paid. Thus, the total pending liability is Rs 4,617,500.

(iv) An anticipated liability of Rs 3.7 crore is pending as of September 13, 2021 towards ex-gratia payment to the next of kin of the deceased—a number likely to increase in the coming weeks.

(v) Given the daily rise in infections, the distribution of provision kits to those under quarantine will continue. It may be noted that, as of September 13, 2021, the number of total COVID-19 reported cases stands at 78,359, of which 1,859 are active cases. The anticipated liability for 2021 is thus Rs 5 crore.

(vi)  In addition to the above, other contingent expenditures will have to be met by the grant.

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