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Odisha heatwave ignites compensation concerns

After 159 people allegedly died of sunstroke in the state, discussion around compensation over deaths owing to heatwave gains prominence.

News Arena Network - Bhubaneswar - UPDATED: June 11, 2024, 02:26 AM - 5 mins read

Odisha: Amid severe heatwave lurks compensation concerns

Odisha heatwave ignites compensation concerns

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This Summer, at least 159 people have died of suspected heatstroke across Odisha.

 

The state emergency operation centre has confirmed that only 41 deaths were related to sunstrokes. The other deaths are under investigation.

 

The Special Relief Commissioner (SRC), in a press release, said: “This summer, consecutively 159 alleged sunstroke death cases have been reported. As per the detailed inquiry, 41 deaths were due to sunstroke and 45 cases were rejected, not due to sunstroke; 73 cases are under inquiry at the district level.”

 

The SRC added: “Eight alleged sunstroke cases have been reported in the last 72 hours.”

 

The director of public health, Nilakantha Mishra, said: “As many as 2,269 people who suffered from heat-related sickness were discharged from hospital after treatment.”

 

Meanwhile, the local Met office has predicted that the heatwaves in the state will continue for some more days and sounded a yellow warning until June 14.

 

The maximum temperature is likely to rise to 45 degrees­­­­ Celsius in the next couple of days. Nuapada in western Odisha recorded the highest temperature of 44 degrees Celsius today.

 

Since the government is making ways to find out the correct number of deaths caused by sunstroke than the number reported, it creates grounds to ponder upon the compensation that the government provides to the kins of those who die owing to heatstroke.

 

Government’s provisions over heatstroke death

 

The Government of India came up with the Prevention of Deaths Due to Heat and Cold Waves Bill, 2015.

Here, the government had given the status of both heat and cold waves as that of a natural disaster.

 

In this act, it was instructed that in whichever state a person suffers from heatwave, the government should take action,

 

The government of the concerned state will give a certain amount to the family of that person. 

 

Under the law made by the government, if someone dies due to heatwave, then a provision was made to give a compensation of at least Rs 3 lakh to the relatives of the deceased.

 

The central government was even supposed to provide funds to the state governments for this compensation amount. 

 

Yet, problems galore in this entire process of providing funds to the families of those who die of heat or cold waves.

 

How to get compensation? 

 

For compensation, the family of the deceased has to apply under the category of compensation given in natural calamities. 

 

First, it is investigated by the block level officer. After this, at the district level, the SDM, Tehsildar or Naib Tehsildar send a report to the government. After which the compensation is released. 

 

Odisha govt’s reluctance with giving compensation 

 

Although the Centre has made it clear that autopsy is not mandatory in all cases of heat-related deaths as the postmortem findings are nonspecific, the state government continues to insist on the outcome of the autopsy to announce sunstroke deaths.

 

After a study on sunstroke-related deaths, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had intimated that the diagnosis of heat-related death be based on a history of exposure to high ambient temperature and reasonable exclusion of other causes of hyperthermia (abnormally high body temperature).

 

The National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has also clarified that if the investigation provides compelling evidence of continuous exposure to a hot environment but fails to identify an independent cause of death, it can be certified as heat-related, with the disease being considered a significant contributing condition, or vice versa as such deaths occur in persons having some preexisting disease known to be exacerbated by heat stress.

 

But, sources say, the Odisha government has been adhering to the old guideline and seeking autopsy reports to announce sunstroke deaths. Besides, there is also a disparity in compensation.

 

Except for sunstroke, the amount of ex-gratia for disaster related-deaths has been raised from Rs 4 lakh to Rs 6 lakh since May last year.

 

However, the Revenue and Disaster Management department, reportedly, pays only Rs 50,000 for sunstroke deaths.

 

Several states of India are badly affected by heat wave. In these states like Delhi, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, the number of deaths owing to heatwave is increasing rapidly.

 

In such a situation, the procedure to provide compensation should be streamlined both at the state and central level.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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