Updated: May 22, 2021 6:23:16 am
Afcons Infrastructure, which chartered barge P305 that sank during Cyclone Tauktae and led to the death of at least 51 people, said on Friday that it would provide compensation of Rs 35 lakh to 75 lakh to the families of the deceased personnel.
The personnel on board were working on a project by state-owned ONGC, which has also announced compensation of Rs 2 lakh to the families of the deceased and Rs 1 lakh compensation to survivors.
“The families of the deceased would receive a total compensation equivalent to balance period of service up to 10 years salaries through a combination of ex gratia pay-outs and insurance compensation,” said a press release by Afcons Infrastructure, adding that the compensation would range from a minimum of Rs 35 lakh to Rs 75 lakh per family.
Barge P305 faced 150-180 km/hour winds and 6-8-metre high waves between Monday evening and early Tuesday morning and started drifting after its anchors gave way. The barge, which had 261 people on board, crashed into an unmanned ONGC installation, causing it to sustain extensive damage before eventually capsizing on Tuesday.
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The release by Afcons said the company would also set up a trust to support the educational needs of the children of the deceased through scholarships.
Besides P305, two other barges — Gal Constructor and Support Station 3 — as well as a drill ship Sagar Bhushan working in an ONGC project were damaged by the cyclone but all 537 personnel on board these vessels were rescued.
In a release announcing Rs 2 lakh compensation for deceased personnel and Rs 1 lakh compensation for survivors, ONGC said “the combined rescue and search efforts will be continued for few more days and we hope that it will help us save more lives”.
A relative of engineer Jomesh Joseph, 35, who died on barge P 305, said he had not yet heard about the compensation, but all those guilty must be punished by law.
Joseph was the second person whose body was handed over to his brother-in-law on Thursday night after he spent the entire day doing the paperwork. His last rites were conducted on Friday in Kerala, where his parents stay.
His wife is a nurse and they have two children aged six and three years.
A relative requesting anonymity said, “His wife and parents are not in a position to speak. His father is still calling his name. You tell me they are giving compensation, but what will I tell his children? They want their father. No amount can compensate for human life. We want the law to punish them for their act. We need a day or two to get out of this pain and think about the compensation. I heard we can get up to Rs 3 crore if we move court. ”
Relatives of Yogendra Yadav, 45, a rigger, were waiting to take his body back to Gorakhpur. He is survived by his wife and five children.
His nephew Gulshan Yadav, 20, said, “Apart from the compensation, all those responsible must be punished. He was the sole breadwinner of the family.”
Sachindra Prasad Singh, 59, from Bihar, worked as a barge surveyor. His body was being handed over on Friday night.
His son Rudra Kumar, 26, director of a school said, “I want maximum punishment under the law. How much money will they give me? We are not poor. I lost my father. It is an irreparable damage. I want the police to probe ONGC’s negligence as well. Is it not their responsibility to take care of people they hire?”
A labourer, Shiv Singh, 50, from Kanpur, said, “My son Sushil Kumar, 23, did not know how to swim. He joined on the barge two months ago. I have three sons. I put my entire life into bringing them up and now he is gone. I want heavy compensation so that I can provide for the rest of my family. Let those responsible be punished by police.”
A group from Gurdaspur in Punjab, who were waiting for bodies of two relatives, said the law will take its course but ONGC should provide government jobs to the children of the deceased as they were both sole breadwinners for their families.
Rajvendar Singh, 31, said, “My uncle Manjeet Singh, 42, was a rigger. He leaves behind a wife and son of 2 years and daughter aged 12 years. Apart from compensation, we demand a government job for the children. I can understand that it was the captain’s fault, but ONGC cannot shrug off responsibility. The police are investigating but God will punish them.”
Jagpreet Singh, 23, said, “God will punish them for they have done. We want a government job for my uncle’s children.”
Kulwinder Singh, 45, was also a rigger. He leaves behind his wife and two sons aged 8 and 12 years and a 5-year-old daughter. He was the only earning family member.
The Yellow Gate police said by that Friday night, 26 bodies were handed over to relatives. Another 23 bodies are at the mortuary and 11 more will be brought there.
Meanwhile, ONGC has put up a help desk. An official from ONGC said, “We know they are in a lot of pain, so to help them we are providing for the entire cost of travel of relatives of the deceased from Mumbai to their homes in other states or districts. We are also booking air tickets for them. The process is time consuming but we are doing our best.”
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