War of Words Over Covid-19 Death Toll as MCD Accuses Delhi Govt of Hiding Fatalities

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Senior leaders of the three BJP-led municipal corporations have claimed that over 2,000 Covid-19 deaths have taken place in Delhi, while the official tally stood at 1,085 as on Thursday. The Delhi government, reacting to the claim, said the Covid-19 death audit committee is "working impartially" and this was "not a time for blame-game but to work together".

At a press conference held at Civic Centre, North Delhi Mayor Avtar Singh, East Delhi Mayor Anju Kamalkant, and chairpersons of standing committee of NDMC, SDMC and EDMC shared the challenges faced by the corporations in the time of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Earlier also the Kejriwal government had reported less death when our tally from crematoria and burial sites had shown nearly three times of the official toll. And, now as per these figures, the number of deaths from COVID-19 in Delhi stands at 2,098 -- SDMC (1080), NDMC (976), EDMC (42)," claimed Jai Prakash, the chairman of Standing Commitee of the NDMC. Prakash shared the figures during the press conference.

The Delhi government later in a statement said, it has set up a Death Audit Committee comprising of senior doctors, who are "working impartially towards assessing deaths caused by coronavirus infection".

"The Hon'ble Delhi High Court has also declared that the Death Audit Committee is working in an appropriate manner and that the work of the committee cannot be questioned," it said.

"We believe that not even a single life must be lost to Coronavirus. This is a time to unite and save the lives of the people. This is not the time to make allegations after allegations, we all have to fight this pandemic together and ensure that not a single life is lost due to coronavirus," the statement said.

Delhi recorded 1,877 fresh coronavirus cases on Thursday, the highest single-day spike here pushing the Covid-19 tally in the city to over 34,000-mark, and the death toll due to the disease mounted to 1,085, authorities said.

Senior civic leaders late May had also claimed that there was a "massive discrepancy" between the COVID-19 death toll as recorded from cremation and burial sites here, and the number of coronavirus fatalities reported by the Delhi government.

The COVID-19 death toll, according to official bulletin released by the Delhi heath department, stood at 194 on May 21, while the tally from MCD figures was nearly 600 till that date, NDMC's Prakash had earlier said.

The NDMC panel chief said, despite paucity of funds, the civic bodies are fighting the COVID battle. "Our workers are carrying sanitation, collecting biomedical waste, doing sanitation of homes of people who are under home quarantine, but the Delhi government says we are not cooperating. How fair is that," he said.

Prakash also claimed, MCD drivers are helping operate CATS ambulance. "We are ready to give all our infrastructure, from stadia to community halls for converting them into medical facilities. We should end blame game and work together to fight corona," he added.

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