4 years on, no sign of memorial for air crash victims

'Air India officials contacted GP a year ago on proposal, but no response since then'

4 years on, no sign of memorial for air crash victims

Today is the fourth anniversary of the Mangalore air crash tragedy that had claimed the lives of 158 persons on board the Air India Express IX 812.

However, even after four years of the tragedy, neither the government nor Air India has initiated any measures to construct a memorial in the name of aircrash victims. The memories of near and dear ones lost in one of the India’s worst aviation disasters will continue to haunt the family members as well as Mangaloreans.

Only eight passengers had survived when the flight from Dubai overshot the tabletop runway at Bajpe Airport and caught fire after it plunged into a valley.

There is no sign at the Ground zero, the spot where the ill-fated flight plunged into the valley. The steel frames of the memorial which was vandalised by the miscreants after five months it was erected too is missing. Even burial site at Thannirbavi where 12 unidentified victims were laid to rest can not be identified easily. A road has come up at the burial ground site.

Unfulfilled promise

During the first anniversary of the tragedy, Air India Express COO S Chandrakumar had promised that the Air India had decided to contribute 90 percent of the financial assistance for the construction of air crash victims’ memorial at Malavoor near Mangalore. “The Malavoor Gram Panchayat had planned to set up a community hall, dispensary and reading room in the village in memory of the crash victims.

The Air India will contribute 90 per cent of the funds for the work, while rest of the amount would be borne by the Gram Panchayat,” he had said and had added that a plaque carrying the names of the deceased too will be erected by the side of the memorial. However, the memorial has not come up till date.

When contacted, Malavoor gram panchayat official said that the Air India officials from New Delhi had contacted the GP a year ago on the proposal. There was no news from them after that. “The Gram Panchayat had decided to construct the community hall by demolishing the old GP building. However, there is no follow up in the proposal. A few of the GP members had raised objections for bearing 10 per cent of the cost of the community. When Air India can bear 90 per cent of the cost, why can’t they bear full amount? the members had said, said the official.

In fact, the Air India can not build a memorial either at Kenjaru Ground Zero as it is a private land or at Thannir Bavi as it belongs to the port. The port had given the land to the district administration on an understanding that graves had to be left unmarked and no memorial should be built at the burial ground.

Runway yet to expanded

On the day of the air crash, the then Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel had promised to expand the runway of the tabletop Mangalore airport. However, neither the Central government nor state have shown interest in acquiring land for runway expansion.

In fact, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah during his maiden visit to Mangalore on September 29, 2013 had promised to look into the issue of expansion of runway.

Mangalore Air Crash Victims’ Association President Mohammad Beary said that the Association will meet Deputy Commissioner soon to discuss on the memorial.

On the compensation for the crash victims, he said that a few families have received good amount of compensation. However, not everyone has got what they deserve. “Our demand is that there should be a minimum payment of Rs 75 lakh as per the Montreal Convention.

In the case of non-working women and children, the average compensation given was meagre. We have filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court in this regard. The hearing was postponed twice.”

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