Morbi Tragedy: Oreva Offers Rs 3.5 Lakh Compensation, HC Labels Amount “Unjust”

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Morbi Tragedy: Oreva Offers Rs 3.5 Lakh Compensation, HC Labels Amount “Unjust”

| Updated: February 22, 2023 10:53

The Gujarat HC asked the Oreva Group to increase its ex-gratia amount after the company proposed, Tuesday, that it would pay Rs 3.5 lakh as ad hoc compensation for each of the 135 people who died when the British-era structure collapsed on October 30, 2022. It offered to pay Rs 1 lakh to each of the 72 injured people. Oreva Group was under the contracted to maintain and operate the Morbi suspension bridge.

The HC ruled both amounts “inadequate.” The bench of Chief Justice Sonia Gokani and Justice Sandeep Bhatt said the court is in the process of fixing interim compensation. In view of a demand by relatives of victims, it’s likely that even the government may have to pay more. The government has so far paid Rs 10 lakh for each fatality and Rs 2 lakh to each of the injured.

For Oreva, its advocate said since its CMD is in jail, taking a decision on compensation would be difficult for others. But when the HC questioned if Oreva wasn’t accountable for the tragedy, the lawyer admitted that the company was in charge of the bridge.

Senior advocate Nirupam Nanavaty, appearing for Oreva Group, told the court if the compensation is broadly divided among the affected persons, the kin of the deceased should get nearly Rs 3.5 lakh while the injured will get Rs 1 lakh each, which according to the HC, was not “just”.

Nanavaty further informed the court that the amount of Rs 5 crore is “ad-hoc” and “interim.” He said Oreva Group “will deposit Rs 5 crore to the Gujarat government within two weeks and state can determine what amount is to be paid to the injured or to the kin of the deceased”

Moreover, the corporate entity has taken full responsibility of seven children who have lost both their parents in the tragedy, said Nanavaty.

These seven children will get all the required facilities such as residence and education, till they become majors. The company would also give them jobs as per their qualifications, said the senior advocate.

Advocate General Kamal Trivedi informed the court that the state as well as the Centre have so far paid a compensation of Rs 10 lakh each to the kin of the deceased and Rs 2 lakh to each injured person.

The Morbi police have arrested ten accused, including Oreva Group MD Jaysukh Patel, under IPC sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide), 336 (act which endangers human life), 337 (causing hurt to any person by doing any rash or negligent act) and under 338 (causing grievous hurt by doing rash or negligent act).

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