Thrikkakara municipality criticized for delay in distributing medical assistance to seriously ill people

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The civic body had announced ₹2,000 relief in the second wave of the pandemic more than six months ago

More than six months after announcing immediate relief of ₹2,000 to critically ill patients within its boundaries during the second wave of the pandemic, Thrikkakara Municipality has yet to honor the pledge, drawing heavy criticism from opposition benches.

The municipality received about 600 requests from patients with serious illnesses such as cancer, heart problems and kidney problems requiring frequent dialysis.

“It’s a derisory aid at first and yet the municipality’s apathy to distribute it is criminal. In fact, some of the claimants have since died without receiving help. The reasoning of the steering committee that the delay is due to the time taken to verify the medical certificates from the primary health centers is unjustifiable, given that these poor candidates had to run everywhere to even obtain these certificates,” said CP Manoop, a independent adviser.

The opposition raised the issue in council on Tuesday, after which the municipal authorities agreed to complete the formalities and distribute the aid within a week. The opposition threatened to launch a strong protest if this deadline was not met.

Mr Manoop said that for a steering committee steeped in corruption, the demand for verification of medical certificates for the distribution of such negligible aid was unreasonable.

However, the chairman of the standing health committee, Rashid Ullampilly, said the opposition would cry foul and raise allegations of corruption if the aid was handed out without proper verification. In fact, it was at the request of the opposition itself that such a check was made mandatory, he said, and cited how the steering committee had to face accusations of corruption even for the implementation of user-friendly projects such as the distribution of food kits.

“We wanted to avoid audit objections in the future and therefore divided the applications between three primary health centers in the municipality for certification by doctors. However, this was delayed as they cited COVID-related duties and the vaccination campaign. But the verification process is now complete and we hope to distribute the money from our own fund this very week,” Ullampilly said.

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