Ahmedabad, August 10: MANY farmers may not be knowing that the State government has insured them for accidental death, but what surprises one is the high number of rejections of claims forwarded by the government to the insurer. From 2003 to 2006, as many as 3,968 of 6,055 claims have been rejected on various grounds.

Responding to a RTI application filed by city-based activist Bharatsinh Jhala, the State Agriculture Department gave this figures. “In 2003, 1,893 of 2,883 claims were rejected; in 2004, 836 of 1289 claims; in 2005, 1,176 of 1,209 claims; and in 2006, 63 of 674 claims were rejected and 327 are still pending,’’ said Jhala.

According to Jhala, the trend shows that only about 20 per cent of the claims are being honoured. “The State government has been paying the premium for the farmers’ insurance, but one wonders why only a few of the claimants get the insured money,’’ he said.

Additional Chief Secretary (Agriculture and Co-operation) Dr. Avinash Kumar, when contacted, made it clear that while the government does pay the premium for the group insurance policy for the farmers, it does not have any say in the matters of settlement of the claims. He said that the National Insurance Company deals with the claims.“This is a group insurance operated at the taluka levels, where the premium payable is quite low. However, the insurance company needs to be sure of the authenticity of the claims before settling them and for that they need some documentary evidences, which the claimants have to submit,’’ said Kumar.

He pointed out that most of these cases have been rejected owing to the non-availability of relevant documents to prove the claimant’s identity or some procedural lapses. According to the policy, a farmer is covered for Rs 1 lakh against death due to accident.“Many a times, the land is registered in one’s father’s or grandfather’s name and the successor just doesn’t bother to get this transferred to his name after the death of the original owner,” said Kumar, adding that such lapses add on to the reasons of rejections of claims.

“The issue being highly emotive, the company has been asked by the government to take a re-look at the cases before closing the files,” Kumar said.

Farmers insured against accidental death, but poor claim settlement still hitch

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