Compensation in Sabarimala tragedies still unpaid

Congress legislator T. Radhakrishnan sought leave for an adjournment motion in the assembly to discuss the accidents at Sabarimala, the latest being the Jan 14 Pulumedu stampede that killed 103 pilgrims.

"Three tragedies have occurred, the first in 1999 which left 53 dead, the Kannamaly tragedy 2009 (12 dead) and the most recent... All that has happened after the tragedy is the usual stereotype announcements of paying compensation to the dead," said Radhakrishnan.  

"The sad part is the Rs.1 lakh compensation announced for the 2009 tragedy is yet to be paid and so is the Rs.5 lakh for the Pulumedu tragedy." Replying, Devasom Minister Kadanapally Ramachandran said the compensation for the 2009 tragedy was held up due to technical issues.

"The Devasom Board had made the announcement for compensation in 2009 and this has not been paid because of a high court order where all payments of the Board have to be cleared by the court. However, we made the initial payment of Rs.25,000 to the kith and kin of victims then itself," he said.

Radhakrishnan said the latest tragedy occurred due to the callous attitude of government departments.

"Were you not aware of the huge influx of pilgrims and that every year the numbers have been going up? At Pulumedu even though police claim there were 267 policemen on duty, there were just eight, of which six had gone to see the celestial light. This is a serious lapse and the government is solely responsible for this," said Radhakrishnan.

Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said the issue should not be politicised.

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