Morbi compensation ‘abysmally low’, says HC

Times of India | 1 week ago | 25-11-2022 | 07:59 am

Morbi compensation ‘abysmally low’, says HC

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat high court said the Rs 4 lakh compensation for death in the Morbi suspension bridge collapse tragedy is inadequate and ordered the state government on Thursday to increase the amount suggesting it should be nearly Rs 10 lakh. The court asked the government to come up with a realistic figure in line with the need of the hour.

The HC also asked the government to come out with a policy with regard to tragedies such like hooch deaths, boats capsizing etc, and said, "Since this has come up, you can visualise something. This is how policies are formulated." It asked the government to place on record "the policies which it would formulate to meet such exigencies both by way of regulatory mechanism as well as rehabilitation steps that would be taken".

One hundred and thirty-five people were killed in the bridge collapse on October 30. The HC had initiated proceedings by taking suo motu cognizance of a TOI report published the next day.

The bench of Chief Justice Aravind Kumar and Justice Ashutosh Shastri insisted that the compensation should be at least double what has been given, and suggested that it should be nearly Rs 10 lakh. "Compensation by state to kin of victims and to those seriously injured is abysmally on the lower side. We hope and trust that by the next date of hearing, the said compensation would be realistic. It is also the need of the hour to pay appropriate compensation."

The court also said that Rs 50,000 compensation for the injured was low. Seeking details about the relatives of the deceased, injured persons, types of injuries sustained and the treatment given to them, the bench said that the compensation for the injured should be computed as is done for motor accident claims. The court also ordered immediate treatment to those injured at appropriate hospitals, if required.

The state government told the HC it has received nearly Rs 5 crore in donations from private parties – Rs 25 lakh from Adani Foundation for 20 orphaned children and Rs 1 lakh compensation for the kin of each of the deceased from a member of Morbi's erstwhile royal family, Rajmata Vijaykunvarba Saheb, who also supplied ration kits to the victims' families. The HC sought a break-up of the funds received and compensation disbursed etc.

The state government submitted that the seven children who lost both parents in the tragedy, would receive nearly Rs 38 lakh each. However, the court was not satisfied with the Rs 3,000 monthly payment to these children and asked for enhancement, "Rs 3,000 to children per month is highly insufficient. Only uniforms and books will be available in this amount."

The court was irked at the mention of the caste of the deceased persons on the list, and the chief justice asked, "Why has the caste of these people been mentioned?" The advocate general defended it by stating that it would help in streamlining extension of benefits of certain schemes available to them. To this, the CJ said, "In such circumstances, each one should be treated equally."

Further hearing has been posted for December 12, when the state government has been directed to furnish the details sought.

Google Follow Image