Deceased construction worker's kin approach HRPF for relief

The Human Rights Protection Foundation (HRPF) of Udupi has taken up yet another case wherein no relief was given to the kin of a construction worker who died at the construction site.

Informing the same to reporters here on Tuesday, Foundation president Dr Ravindranath Shanbhag said that even though there is a scheme for payment of Rs 2 lakh as relief to the family of the bereaved, no relief whatsoever was given in this specific case due to ignorance of law and the governmental relief schemes. It is a matter of great urgency to bring about public awareness of the possibilities of assistance to the hapless victims.

Srikanth, a 25-year-old man, belonging to a poor family from Kanchinadka near Padubidri, grew up in utter poverty. He had to discontinue his education at the tender age of 12 years due to the untimely demise of his father. He worked in a hotel in Bengaluru to take care of his mother Appi and two ailing sisters. After a decade of struggling to make ends meet by working in hotels in Bengaluru, he returned to his native place and started working as a construction worker on daily wages with construction contractor Keshava Sapaliga. He married Monica of Hejamadi.

On March 10, 2013, Shrikant, who had gone to work at a construction project at Panjimari, near Shirva, did not return home. The roof of a building, being constructed under the supervision of Keshava Sapaliga, collapsed and crushed Shrikanth to death. The family of four dependents was rendered without a breadwinner.

They contacted a lawyer and made enquiries for some help from the contractor or some other source. The lawyer advised that since the death occurred when he was on duty at the construction site, they may get compensation from the contractor and also the Karnataka Building and other Construction Workers Welfare Board. He advised that an application for ex gratia compensation may be made. The advocate promised to file the petition for obtaining compensation and relief from contractor and the labour officer.

As there was no development in the case, the helpless mother contacted the HRPF office. When enquiries were made in the office of the Labour officer in Udupi in the month of August 2017, it was a matter of shock to know that there was no pending case against the contractor nor any case had been registered. Also the name of the contractor, Keshava Sapaliga, was not there in the list of Registered Construction Contractors.

In case of any mishap in the construction stage of any building, there is a provision of compensation to the family of the deceased for the payment of ex gratia of Rs 2 lakh. But for getting this compensation, the contractor concerned has to get himself registered and also register the names of the workers under him with the Karnataka Building and other Construction Workers' Welfare Board. The only other relief possible is the payment of a sum of Rs 50,000, also called ex gratia to the family of the deceased. The lawyer had obtained the signature of the relatives of late Srikanth to this application too but had no time to submit this application, he added.

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