BHUBANESWAR: Six years after the death of two tribal women during sand mining in Rayagada district, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has directed the State Government to pay compensation of `4 lakh each to the victims’ families.The apex human rights panel has asked the Chief Secretary to ensure that the compensation is paid to next of kin of the deceased Sakuntala Majhi and Laxmi Majhi and submit proof of payments within four weeks.
On June 22, 2014, the two women labourers were buried under heaps of sand which they were loading on a tipper near a river in Rayagada district. The matter was taken up by NHRC after rights activist Akhand lodged a petition seeking compensation and action against erring officials for allowing illegal mining of sand.The Commission issued a show cause notice to the Government asking as to why `4 lakh should not be recommended to be paid to the families of the two tribal women victims. In its response in August 2019, the State Government had pleaded that the matter for compensation as per Employees’ Compensation Act, 1923 is sub judice in the High Court.
Additional Secretary of Labour and ESI department submitted that tipper owner Sriram Naik moved the High Court after Labour Commissioner under the EC Act directed him to deposit a compensation of `4,41,441 and `4,36,800.Observing that there is fallacy and ill-conception in the assertions in reply of Additional Secretary, the NHRC ordered monetary relief recommended to the Government authority is in addition to the victims’ personal rights and legal remedy to file the claim against the tipper owner before the Employees Compensation and Assistant Labour Commissioner, Rayagada.
“Both the compensations are distinct based on different grounds as the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 intends to provide immediate relief to the victims for failure or negligence to protect their human rights or abetment by a public servant. The Government has to pay the compensation for violation of their human rights,” the Commission stated. The next date for hearing has been posted for March 19.