The Hindu: Kerala: Thursday, March 9, 2017.
Government apathy has inflicted deep wounds on the Supreme Court-appointed committee to decide on the compensation to dog-bite victims in Kerala.
Besides refusing to pay the salary of its staff and other expenses of the committee, the Kerala government has declined to share information on compensation paid to dog-bite victims in the State.
While the State did not respond to the request for compensation data from the committee headed by S. Siri Jagan, a former judge of the High Court of Kerala, an application from the secretary of the committee by invoking the provisions of the Right To Information (RTI) Act was also rejected.
The quantum of compensation allotted earlier to the victims would have to be deducted from the solace sanctioned by the committee. Despite formally demanding the information, the State had not shared it, Mr. Jagan said.
The request under RTI from the secretary was rejected with an explanation that officials of the organisations cannot seek such information under the Act. Later, the committee got a communication from the department stating that the request had been forwarded to the agencies concerned, he said.
The directions of the committee, including the suggestion for making Human Immunoglobin Vaccine for victims available in hospitals, went unheeded. Most of the Primary Health Centres in the State were ill-equipped and the bite-victims who reach there were referred to other hospitals, he said.
Around 90 per cent of the victims who sought compensation were poor. The highest claim awarded by the committee was for Rs.7 lakh. Claims for higher amounts would be submitted to the aprex court shortly, the chairman said.
The committee, in its report submitted to the apex court, had criticised the State government for failing to send its representatives to the panel sittings to assess the compensation. Despite informing the Principal Secretary (Revenue) regarding the sittings, no officials had turned up for any of the meetings, he said.
The salary of the secretary to the committee was pending for the past seven months. The government had not sanctioned contingency fund to the committee forcing the chairman to meet the stationary expenses from his pocket.
So far, around Rs.20,000 had been spend on postage expenses alone. For every case, six notices would have to be send by registered post and the postage fee would come around Rs.150. The panel, which has the State Law Secretary and Director of Health Services as its members, had received over 500 applications.