Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court directed the Maharashtra government to double the compensation amount that is to be given to the families of those who lost their lives after accidentally inhaling pesticide last year.
Earlier the compensation money was 2 lakh which has now been raised to Rs4 lakh each by the High Court in its Thursday hearing.
If the victims’ families feel that the amount is not enough to compensate for their loss, they have the power to drag government officials including the chief secretary to the court.
A division bench comprising of justices Bhushan Dharmadhikari and Swapna Joshi asked the department to set inquiry against the concerned officials responsible for the disaster within six weeks. In case of serious negligence by the authorities, during the probe, it will be termed as punishable criminal offenses.
The bench instructed the government to adopt a uniform policy for declaring compensations in such cases.
The authorities have also asked to conduct awareness programmes for farmers for safely using insecticides before the onset of monsoon, by the District Legal Aid Service Authority (DLSA).
Reacting of the PIL filed by the social activist Jammu Anand the court directed the government to submit a detail investigation report within six weeks.
The court allowed victims’ families to draw an estimate of their losses and if they are not satisfied with the compensation given by the government and want higher amount then they are free to move to the court against state’s chief secretary, principal secretary (agriculture), agriculture commissioner and Yavatmal collector.
Considering the loss previously the petitioner’s counsel Arvind Waghmare asked that Rs2 lakh which was announced earlier is too less.
This catastrophe took place last year and 54 died due to the accidental inhalation of pesticide. Most of the deceased were the laborers engaged in the cotton fields of Yavatmal district.
Seeking SIT to probe the pesticide deaths, a PIL had been filed. On January 28 an investigation report had been submitted by the panel headed by divisional commissioner (Amravati) Piyush Singh.
However, the report does not point any official as responsible for the mishap. That is why the petitioner had sought a judicial inquiry into the matter.
After the deaths, the government took quick action against five chemical formulations of pesticides and banned them. However, as permanent ban needs an order from the center, the ban was removed after 60 days.
The High Court directed the government to put up a report to the union government as well as the Central Insecticide Board and try to find a permanent ban on the chemicals.
In a report submitted by the petitioner, a ban on the use of BT Cotton seeds and also pesticides referred by the SIT is demanded. The petitioner also accused the local and state authorities of committing contempt of court.
According to him, the authorities were failed to ban the deadly insecticides, which was directed by the High Court in its October 6 directives.
Information Source: TOI
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