Morbi ex gratia of Rs 4 lakh too little, make it Rs 10 lakh: HC tells government | India News

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat high court asked the government on Thursday to increase the compensation money to nearly Rs 10 lakh for each fatality in the Morbi suspension bridge collapse, saying the current amount of Rs 4 lakh is inadequate. It said Rs 50,000 for the injured is a small amount too.
The Gujarat town’s British-era bridge across the Machchhu river buckled and caved in on October 30, killing 135 people.
The HC initiated proceedings by taking suo motu cognizance of a TOI report published the next day. A bench of Chief Justice Aravind Kumar and Justice Ashutosh Shastri insisted Thursday that the ex gratia should be at least double of what has been announced or given, suggesting around Rs 10 lakh.
“Compensation by the 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 said.
The HC asked the government to come up with a realistic figure and an ex gratia policy for tragedies such as hooch deaths and boat capsize. It said the government must 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”.
The court sought details about the relatives of the deceased, the injured, types of injuries and their treatment. Compensation for the injured should be computed in accordance with the motor accident claims. The HC sought a break-up of the funds received and compensation disbursed. The Gujarat government submitted that it has received nearly Rs 5 crore in donations from private parties, including Rs 25 lakh from Adani Foundation for 20 orphaned children and a member of Morbi’s erstwhile royal family, Rajmata Vijaykunvarba Saheb, has given Rs 1 lakh to relatives of each of the deceased.
The government said seven children lost both parents in the tragedy and they 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 the government to increase the amount.
The judges were furious when they saw deceased people’s castes mentioned on the casualty list. The advocate general replied that it would help streamline benefits of certain schemes available to them. “In such circumstances, each one should be treated equally,” the Chief Justice said. The government was directed to furnish all details in the next hearing on December 12.

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