Friday, April 24, 2009

EC had advised candidates to go for terror insurance: NIA

Express News Service
Posted: Apr 25, 2009 at 0307 hrs IST

Pune Even as the first phase of elections was marred by unprecedented Naxal violence and the second phase being only marginally better, it emerges that last month the Election Commission had sent out an advisory to candidates contesting elections from sensitive constituencies asking them to go in for terror insurance.
Though the terror insurance has been there since 9/11, this is the first time that the EC has advised its usage during elections. This is mainly for communally sensitive areas or where the Naxalites operate," said KC Mishra, director National Insurance Academy (NIA) Pune. NIA is an advisor and evaluator of the insurance scheme. They had also conducted the field study for it when it was launched in the country.

According to Mishra the candidates have been advised to take the traditional terror insurance as there is no specific one aimed at elections. “The cover is very nominal at eight paisa per Rs1000 and is for both life and property. Usually the human life valuation is done on the basis of the declaration made by the candidates - it’s a multiple of their worth as declared by during the filing of their nominations. Other than life, poll paraphernalia like jeeps, vans and all election properties can also be insured," said Mishra.

He added that recent terror attacks in the country have made many constituencies vulnerable. “I would think a third-party terror insurance is almost mandatory in today’s times during the elections," he said.

The General Insurance Company manages a pool of fund for terror insurance of Rs 1,200 crore as mandated by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority. Initially only global terror insurance was available, but after 9/11 the pool for India was set up with a sum of Rs 200 crore, providing cover for property loss or damage and business interruption claims arising out of terrorist activities. Incidentally this was the pool that also initially paid up to hotels Taj and Trident after the Mumbai attacks.

A N Valvi, undersecretary and deputy chief electoral officer for Maharashtra said the missive from the EC does not have much relevance in Maharashtra with Gadchiroli being the only sensitive constituency. Neelam Gorhe, spokesperson, Shiv Sena said that it’s probably the security personnel who need the insurance more than the candidates.

“I don’t see too many politicians going for it because for one monetary concerns are not such a big issue for people at that level and secondly going for it may give the public the impression that the politician is scared of attacks and this may not augur well for his or her image," said Gorhe.

Incidentally according to reports the EC was also considering insurance benefit to voters in sensitive booths in 76 districts, located in nine states including Jharkhand, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattishgarh, but the thought did not translate into policy.

According to Mishra the number of candidates who actually take the cover will be known only after the elections as the figures are collated by GIC only after the lag of a month or so. When contacted regional managers of New India Assurance and Oriental Assurance in Mumbai said that though many individuals and industries have gone in for terror insurance they have no way of knowing how many are politicians from the lot.

While the Election Commission office could not confirm when the terror advisory was sent, it said that they have a general cover for election personnel during polls.

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