February 14, 2009 1:45:23 am
The Ministry of Home Affairs in 2007 had announced additional ex-gratia payment for those whose residential properties had been damaged during the 2002 riots. Two years on,the government is yet to release the full amount it had promised.
In a circular issued in April 2007,the Central government had promised to pay additional ex-gratia assistance,which was 10 times of the amount given by the state government for the damage of residential properties.
As per calculations made on the basis of payments made by the state government,the Central ex-gratia to be paid to the victims came to Rs 262.44 crore.
According to state government data,a total of 29,467 residential properties had been damaged or destroyed during the 2002 riots,and it included 18,230 properties in urban and 11,237 in rural areas.
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A state government official said the Ministry of Home Affairs released only Rs 50 crore in December 2008 out of the promised amount. As a result,the victims were paid only 19.05 per cent of the total ex-gratia due to them.
The official said there was no further communication from the Centre as to when the remaining amount will be released.
Yusuf Sheikh of the Aantarik Visthapit Hak Rakshak Samiti (AVHRS),who has been fighting for the rights of the riot victims,said that most of the victims refused to accept the part compensation,as it was too meagre a sum.
He said the affected families will assemble in Vadodara on February 14 to plan the future course of action.
“It is really an irony that the Centre has not released the fund,which it had promised two years ago,” Sheikh added.
Meanwhile,Sheikh and Gagan Sethi of Centre for Social Justice have been fighting a legal battle in the Gujarat High Court for full monetary compensation to the relatives of those who were killed and injured in the 2002 riots.
In their petition,they have also demanded jobs in Central and state government departments for the next of
kin of those dead; re-employment of those who had lost their jobs due to absence during riots; and pension benefits to those who had to leave their jobs due to riots and have now crossed the age of superannuation.
According to the petition,these were part of the relief package announced by the Centre.
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