Authorities accused of not settling many claims from workers
Members of the Akhila Bharatha Karmika Sangha launched an indefinite fast demanding improvement of facilities at the five Employees State Insurance dispensaries in the city on Thursday.
The other demands included simplification in the process of claiming reimbursement of treatment charges and increase in the frequency of buses connecting ESI dispensaries in the city to ESI Hospital in Kadri Shivbagh.
ABKS general secretary Suddatta Jain and ABKS State president G.M. Gadkar have been on hunger strike since Wednesday. Mr. Jain said that there had been a delay in the dispensaries in reimbursing treatment charges taken at private hospitals. The delay was because the authorities insist on the ESI “Pehchan” card and documents including employment certificate and ration card for claiming the expenses. “Why can't the officials reimburse the amount only on the basis of the Pehchan card,” he asked.
Mr. Jain said that several claims for reimbursement had not been settled so far. “My own claim for Rs. 1,500 has been pending for six months. There are several claims, including one for Rs. 4 lakh, which have not been reimbursed,” he said. Shortage of staff was also hampering settlement of claims, he said.
“At one dispensary, a permanent clerk handling the claims retired a few weeks ago. No replacement has been made so far,” he said. Officials were not settling the claims for want of funds, he added.
Mr. Gadkar said that the employees were facing problems because of reduction in the frequency of buses connecting the dispensaries to the ESI Hospital. The frequency of buses has been reduced from six to three trips on the recommendation of the ESI Hospital Superintendent Ashok Kumar Naik. The ESI needs to restore the facility, he said.
Responding to the demands, Mr. Naik told The Hindu that documents sought for reimbursement of claims was as per the directions issued by the ESI Regional Office. “If it needs to be simplified, then it has to be addressed by the Regional Office,” he said. Mr. Naik said that some of the claims of 2011 had not been settled because of lack of funds.
Mr. Naik said the bus facility was introduced last year on a trial basis for one year with the ESI paying Rs. 60,000 a month to a private bus operator. Following the request from the Regional ESI office, he submitted statistics about the number of patients visiting the hospital using the bus. Mr. Naik said the ambulances in the hospital were used in cases of emergencies.