A welcome rise, but not enough

Ten kids miraculously escaped after a speeding SUV collided to a school van in Kallahalli village near Anekal on Monday morning. The school van was heading towards Sarjapura road and the SUV came in opposite direction crashed into the bus. The SUV driver

The increase in compensation for families of those killed in road accidents and for survivors of accidents, notified by the government last week, was long overdue. The compensation has been increased from Rs 50,000 to Rs 5 lakh in the case of deaths. It varies from Rs 25,000 to Rs 5 lakh in the case of injuries and disabilities, depending on the gravity of the injury and the extent of disability. There is also a provision for a yearly increase of 5% in the amount of compensation from next year. The compensation amounts have been raised after a gap of 24 years. The number of accidents, the accident rate and the possibility of accidents have increased manifold over these years. There have been demands for higher compensation all these years and it is strange and surprising that it was not considered necessary till now to increase them. 

The proposed increases are inadequate, too, as Rs 5 lakh is nothing for a family which has lost the support of an earning member. It is not sufficient compensation even for the death of a person who did not work or earn. Those who suffer injuries and sustain disabilities also deserve more, considering the cost of treatment and the hardships to be encountered in later life. It is doubtful if the amounts now notified are in accordance with the guidelines given by the Supreme Court last year to decide the amount compensation. The court had said that the future prospects of a person killed in an accident should be taken into consideration when the compensation is computed. Age and the nature of job or profession pursued by the victim are other factors. In the case of insurance claims also, victims and survivors often do not get justice. A select committee on the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2017, had even suggested that the insurance liability should be capped at Rs 10 lakh in the case of death and Rs 5 lakh in the case of injuries. Some state governments and consumer groups have, however, strongly opposed this. 

Providing adequate compensation to the victims is not enough. State transport corporations, private transport companies and their staff should be held accountable for the accidents that they are involved in. This does not always happen and many of those who cause accidents, or are responsible for them, escape punishment and penalties. Cases drag on without a decision for many years and victims are denied justice. Very often, the case is an unequal fight between a powerful and resourceful organisation and a single individual. The virtual immunity enjoyed by the corporations in this respect in many states should end. 

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A welcome rise, but not enough

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