For More Info Log on to

Google Groups Subscribe to RTI Group
Browse Archives at

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

United in tragedy, divided in compensation

Paul John TNN : January 9, 2002: A state transport bus collides head-on with a truck on Surat-Vyara highway killing 29 bona fide passengers on the spot. The government awards an initial package of Rs 5,000 from the Chief Minister and revenue relief fund to relatives of only 23 victims. September 10, 2003: An overloaded jeep turns turtle on the highway near Palanpur claiming 18 lives. The government awards Rs 50,000 from the CM and revenue relief fund to the kin of all the victims. Is the value of life of a person killed while travelling in an overloaded private jeep more than that of a bona fide passenger killed while travelling in a state transport bus? It seems the Gujarat government has put a higher price tag on road accident victims killed in illegally overloaded taxis. The government has no standard policy for compensating accident victims. There have been a string of instances where compensation given to victims for similar incidents varies dramatically. To mention a few, on November 24, 2004, when six children drowned in the Asarva lake in Ahmedabad, parents of the five children were given Rs 15,000 each while parents of one of the victims were given Rs 25,000. In a similar incident, the relatives of six youths, who drowned in Narmada river in Kevadia, were not compensated at all. “Relatives of victims of such tragedies have never demanded compensation from the government. It is always the government which comes forward to offer relief. Why then did the government not compensate relatives of Kevadia victims? Why are victims killed in similar disasters at different times compensated differently in Gujarat?” asks Girdhar Patel, who recently analysed voluminous data obtained under the Right to Information Act (RTI) on compensations awarded by the government from the CM and revenue relief funds. “If relatives of each of the 18 victims of the Palanpur jeep accident were paid Rs 50,000 as compensation, why were 10 victims who died on the Deesa-Dhanera highway in a similar overloaded jeep tragedy on October 26, 2005 and relatives of the 10 victims, who died in a similar road accident in Khambadia, ignored by the government? On what basis does the government award compensations to the kin of victims, I don’t understand,” adds Patel. The commissioner for relief Rajesh Kishore said the process of giving compensation has to do more with a “human angle” in a particular accident than going purely by the law. “We have certain guidelines but the severity of the incident and the effect that certain tragedies have on human lives is what gets analysed in a broader perspective while awarding compensation. “Besides, the decisions pertaining to compensations are taken on the file and tend to get subjective sometimes. The families of victims can always move the courts or special tribunals if they want a higher amount as compensation,” adds Kishore.
Publication: Times Of India Ahmedabad; Date:2007 Feb 22; Section:Ahmedabad; Page Number 3

No comments: