September 7, 2021 11:26:24 am
Though payment of compensation cannot restore the lost lives, it will certainly serve as a balm to the pained hearts, the Madras High Court observed on Monday and directed the authorities to disburse a total sum of Rs. 25.31 lakh between the parents of two families, whose minor sons had drowned in an abandoned quarry in Vellore district in 2017.
Justice R Mahadevan, who issued the directive, also told the Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary to issue appropriate instructions, as are necessary, to the district Collectors and other authorities in the state to ensure that after the expiry of the lease period, the lease holders must fence the site and provide other safety parameters so that no such untoward incident will recur.
The judge was allowing two writ petitions from the parents praying for a direction to the government to pay Rs 25 lakh each for the death of their sons at an abandoned government quarry in Pallikuppam village in Anaicut taluk, Vellore district on May 15, 2017.
The writ petitions were filed by the petitioners praying to direct the respondents to pay a sum of Rs 25 lakh each as compensation for the death of their sons — R Gideon (15) and S Moses (17) — on the ground that their death happened due to negligence and carelessness on the part of the authorities in maintaining the quarry with minimum safeguards and/or protection.
During the course of hearing, Hi-Tech Rocks Products and Aggregates Limited, the erstwhile lease holder of the site in question, deposited a sum of Rs 25.31 lakh with the district administration towards security deposit in 2011. It is also stated that after expiry of lease period, the said company did not fence the site in question as a measure of protection and therefore, the deposited money had been forfeited and retained by the district administration.
“This stands testimony to the fact that the aforesaid company, to which lease was granted, has failed to provide minimum safety measures by fencing the quarried land and abandoned it…. this Court is of the view that the amount of Rs 25.31 lakh, which is in possession of the district administration, shall be directed to be paid to the petitioners, equally, together with accrued interest, as compensation for the death of their sons due to drowning, which would meet the ends of justice,” the judge said.
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