Dog bite victims, who are eligible for compensation from the government, seem reluctant to come forward to claim damages.
Though around two lakh cases of street dog attacks are being reported annually from the State, the Siri Jagan Committee appointed by the Supreme Court to decide on compensation for victims has so far received only around 5,000 applications.
Going by the number of reported dog bites, the commission ought to have received at least six to seven lakh applications by now. The number of applications is not reflecting the bite incidents, says S. Siri Jagan, panel head and former judge of the Kerala High Court.
Since its formation in 2016, compensation has been recommended in 818 cases and damages provided to 749 persons. Compensation for another 137 applicants is pending, he says.
Poor awareness about the compensation scheme may be the reason for the poor public response. It is also found that mostly people from low economic backgrounds fall prey to dogs, says Mr. Siri Jagan.
The applications can be sent to the panel office which is functioning from the UPAD Buildings on Paramara Road, Kochi 682 018. Documents supporting the claim including hospital bills, outpatient tickets, and the loss suffered shall be submitted.
Meanwhile, the lack of government support has hit the functioning of the panel. The commission chairman has so far shelled out around ₹1.5 lakh from his pocket for meeting stationary expenses for sending notices to the parties concerned. Despite highlighting the infrastructural inadequacies, the authorities have not responded. The panel had to call off sittings at district centres after the authorities failed to reimburse the room rent and other expenses for holding the sitting, adds Mr. Siri Jagan.
The Kerala State Legal Services Authority will step up the awareness campaign urging the victims to claim the compensation, says T. K. Nizar Ahamad, member secretary of the authority. The district units have been asked to support the victims file the application. Details can be obtained from the telephone numbers 0484-2396717 and the helpline 9846700100, he adds.