Hyderabad: Jubilee Hills and Falaknuma circles of Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) reported "excess deaths" registered through MeeSeva during the pandemic - from April 2020 to June 2021 – an RTI revealed.

MeeSeva is a government-to-citizen and citizen-to-government services provided by the government of Telangana. It provides over 150 services. As per the data retrieved through an RTI filed by Forum Against Corruption, headed by Vijay Gopal, Jubilee Hills circle saw the highest deaths during the pandemic, registering 13,808 deaths, while Falaknuma circle reported 12,341 deaths.

May 2021 saw approximately five times more deaths than May 2020 in Jubilee Hills circle. In May 2020, the number of deaths registered through MeeSeva was around 458 while in May 2021, it was around 2,194. Similarly, Falaknuma circle recorded 1,733 deaths in May this year while only 569 deaths were recorded in the corresponding month of the previous year.

The MeeSeva records show that around 74,294 deaths were reported in the GHMC circles during the pandemic. During the second wave of COVID-19, in April, May, and June 2020, 18,470 deaths were reported while during the same corresponding period last year, the GHMC area had reported only 11,944 deaths.

The cause of the deaths, however, is unknown for such a huge number of people. Activist Vijay Gopal said the GHMC issues a death certificate only after the hospital updates the death of a person in its system and uploads the name of the deceased, time of death, age, and gender. "The hospitals are also required to enter the cause of death, which means they have to write down whether the person died in a motor vehicle accident, of cardiac arrest or COVID-19, or if it was a natural death. But for the RTI they refused to give the information of the cause of death."

In 2019, GHMC reported around 26,195 deaths. After COVID-19 hit, it saw around 55,270 deaths in 2020 and till 26 July 2021 the figures were 37,739. This year till 26 July, the highest number of deaths have been reported in Jubilee Hills (8,035) followed by Falaknuma (6,300).

The number of actual deaths might be even higher than what the GHMC has registered. According to the latest National Family Health Survey (2019-20), only 74 per cent of deaths were registered with the civil authorities in Telangana. In urban areas, the number rose to 79 per cent.

Mr. Gopal added that there is a drastic increase in deaths in the GHMC area alone. "If the government wants people not to panic, then it should have at least used this information to improve the infrastructure of the medical department and ensure availability of medicines and oxygen and well in time avoided the second wave, yet they did not do so. It continues to underplay the severity of the disease, leading to multiple waves and concerns. Citizens are also gaining confidence due to the bad faith of the government, to go to public places and invite more trouble. COVID-19 hit the health system this year in April and May. My question to the government is why so many deaths were not reported and also why they are not revealing the cause of the deaths?"

Sumit Kumar Jha

Sumit Kumar Jha is currently a multimedia journalist with Newsmeter. An alumnus of Hyderabad Central University and Amity University, he has interned with The New Indian Express and CGNet Swara. Sumit has also worked with video production houses in Mumbai as an assistant director in shows like 21 Sarfrosh for Discovery Jeet. He is specialised in Video Production. He was also the contributor at PARI network. Hailing from rural Bihar has spent his childhood shifting from places and people. Growing up he felt the need to document the lives and dreams of rural India. A lover of visual storytelling goes around the cities to search for Stories. He primarily reports on civic, human interest and data stories.

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