Ahmedabad: The Gujarat government is accused of hiding the real number of COVID deaths as reports suggested that the deaths certificate issued by the government authorities surpassed the officially declared death figure.
While the State's leading newspaper 'Divya Bhaskar' is said to have identified a huge mismatch between official death figures and death certificates, The Hindu reports that the official COVID deaths are 20 times lower reported in some districts.
According to the report, official figures of COVID death continue to see a sharp mismatch in the number of COVID-19 deaths reported by the health authorities compared to the number of deaths in rural and remote districts.
The report says that the figures from rural districts reported in local media based on information from cremation grounds and local government offices from the State's north, south and central regions, and Saurashtra and Kutch, bring out the horror of the pandemic's devastating second wave.
Quoting Congress legislator Naushad Solanki from Surendranagar district, the report says that the compiled month-wise data from the district panchayat and other agencies show that there is a huge under-counting of deaths reported by the Gujarat government.
For example, in the Surendranagar district, there were 814 deaths in March 2020 and 957 deaths in March 2021. In April 2020, there were 784 deaths while in the same month this year (2021), the total deaths in the district stood at a high 3,140. In May 2020, 756 deaths were reported from the district whereas only till May 8, 2021, that figures stood at 1,739.
Solanki added that there was a difference of more than 3,000 deaths in less than the 70-day period in the years 2020 and 2021. But as of May 15, the official death toll in Surendranagar district has been around 130 since the COVID-19 outbreak in March 2020.
Mr Solanki and other legislators of the Opposition party also have urged the Gujarat government to come clean on the real number of deaths as the pandemic is ravaging villages where many people are dying without being tested or receiving any form of treatment, says the report.
Meanwhile, Confirming the news, the District collector reacted to The Hindu that smaller towns have only a few functional medical amenities to cope with the flow of patients and so there is certainly much higher mortality in such places.
The official added that government figures could not reflect the true extent of the deaths caused by the pandemic because many had died without being tested or receiving proper diagnosis and treatment.
Earlier on Friday, after leading newspaper 'Divya Bhaskar' claimed that Gujarat had issued about 1, 23,000 death certificates between March 1 and May 10, as against about 58,000 death certificates issued during the same period in 2020, the Gujarat government on Saturday had rejected the discrepancy in its figures and stated that the government was following the Indian Council of Medical Research guidelines in declaring COVID-19 deaths.