Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 15th 2015 Contents A37
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ANDRA PRADESH, INDIA---In Nandiga-
ma, a small town in the southern Indian
state of Andhra Pradesh, many families
have been frequenting a government
hospital and a local office to seek death
Among them is 23-year-old Dhan Lak-
shmi, who lives in the town with her three
children and an old mother-in-law.
She is seeking a certificate for her hus-
band, Gopu Chandraiyah, who died last
Lakshmi says Chandraiyah worked as a
daily wage earner who went door-to-door
repairing broken umbrellas.
As the massive heatwave gripped
Nandigama and large parts of India in
recent weeks and temperatures crossed
48 degrees, the authorities advised people
to stay indoors.
But, Chandraiyah had to set out for
work in the scorching sun because the
family was too poor for him to miss work
even for a day.
"One afternoon, he returned home and
fell unconscious from the heat. He was
running very high fever and began vom-
iting," Lakshmi said.
"Some villagers helped me take him
to the local hospital in Nandigama. The
doctors treated him there. He was admin-
istered saline and medicines. But his con-
dition deteriorated and he died in the
'No one is helping me'
Lakshmi said she approached the local
authorities for compensation, but was
told that the family would not get any
since an autopsy was not done after
Chandraiyah s death which could con-
clusively prove that he died from heat.
"They say an autopsy is mandatory
now. But no one told us then and we
cremated the body. The government had
announced that all those who have died due to
a heat stroke will be given 100,000 rupees
($1,560; £1,010) as compensation. But I am run-
ning from one office to another. No one is ready
to help me," she said.
In Andhra Pradesh, authorities earlier said
the heatwave had killed more than 3,000 people
---that figure has now been revised down to
Similarly, the toll in the neighbouring state
of Telangana that recorded temperatures up to
48.5C (119F), is now 575---earlier, it was estimated
to be more than 1,000. The state pays 50,000
rupees as compensation for a heatwave death.
Andhra Pradesh Disaster Management and
Relief department official Jagdish Chander Shar-
ma told the BBC that the earlier figures were
compiled on the basis of reports being sent from
villages to the district headquarters.
"But these figures were without proper ver-
ification. We did not know whether they were
natural deaths or due to the heat wave. Later,
after the verification process, the numbers have
M Suresh Babu, a doctor at the Nandigama
Government Hospital, says for a heatwave death
to be recognised, it has to be certified by a
three-member committee that includes a local
government official, a police official and the
government doctor. Moreover, anyone over 70
years of age is not counted.
Authorities say many deaths are reported as
heatwave deaths by families because they want
to claim compensation.
But families of the dead say the official process
to certify a heatwave-related death has become
so complicated that even genuine cases are often
difficult to prove.
And the authorities are hiding behind rules
to deny them compensation, they say.
India heatwave victims face compensation woes
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