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Insurance scheme for coastal population

By Our Special Correspondent

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, JAN. 11. The Government has decided to implement a comprehensive insurance scheme for people residing in the coastal areas of the State.

A meeting of insurance company representatives convened by the Chief Minister, Oommen Chandy, here today decided to constitute a seven-member committee to draw up the scheme.

The committee will have as its members the Principal Secretary, Revenue, S. Sundaresan, the Fisheries Secretary, Elias George, the Kudumbasree secretary, T. K. Jose, as Government nominees and representatives of the four insurance companies. The draft scheme will be finalised by a meeting to be held in the presence of the Revenue Minister, K. M. Mani, and the Fisheries Minister, Dominic Presentation.

Briefing reporters about the deliberations, the Chief Minister said the companies had promised to disburse Rs.93 lakhs in insurance claims sought by 91 persons from the tsunami-hit areas within a week.

`Relax norms'

The State Government, he said, would request the Centre to ask the insurance companies to relax their norms to make claims available to the tsunami-affected people as had been done in the case of the Latur earthquake victims.

The United Insurance Company manager, C. P. Udayachandran, handed over a cheque for Rs.5 lakhs to the Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund to Mr. Chandy at the meeting.

Mr. Chandy, who also held discussions with representatives of banks on tsunami-related relief and rehabilitation measures, said the banks had promised to provide up to Rs.5,000 as loan to each tsunami-affected family at 7 per cent interest. No security will be sought for the loan and the repayment will begin only after six months. Another Rs.6,500 will be given for purchasing consumer durables at 4 per cent interest. Each affected person will also be eligible for a loan of Rs. 75,000 for purchasing boats and fishing gear. These loans will carry an interest of 7 per cent. All the affected people have been asked to open bank accounts for which the deposit would be just Rs.10. The banks agreed to expedite processing of education loans sought by the tsunami-victims and play their part in rehabilitation of the displaced families.

Talks with officials

The Chief Minister said he had also had discussions with officials connected with rehabilitation work. Work is apace for arranging temporary rehabilitation, and plans for permanent resettlement of the affected people are being finalised. In Ernakulam, 1.17 acres of land in Edavanakkad has been identified for constructing permanent houses for about 150 families. In Alappuzha, five sites have been identified for temporary resettlement. Sheds are under construction in these sites. It should be possible to resettle people from Arattupuzha in these sheds by January 15. The permanent houses would be built on a war-footing, he said.

Mr. Chandy said he had personally received Rs. 6 crores by way of contributions to the distress relief fund.

On Mr. K. Karunakaran's criticism about the relief effort, the Chief Minister said he was inclined to take the criticism as advice meant to guide the Government in the right path.

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