Kerala opposition allege discrimination in government treatment of air crash, landslide mishap victims

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The opposition parties in Kerala have alleged double standard on the part of Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in its approach towards the victims of calamities.

The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) and the Bharatiya Janata Party have unleashed a major offensive against the government based on the government’s response to the massive landslide at Rajamala in Idukki district on August 7 and the aircraft crash at Karipur airport near Kozhikode on August 8.

While chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Governor Mohammed Arif Khan and a host of ministers rushed to Karipur and even announced a solatium of Rs.10 lakh to the kin of 18 people killed in the air crash, they ignored the victims of the landslide, who are mostly poor tea garden workers.

The compensation offered to the kin of the landslide victims was a mere Rs.5 lakh, which is just half of the compensation announced for the air crash victims. The landslide is feared to have left 78 people dead. While 43 bodies have been recovered till August 9 evening, 23 are yet to be traced.

Leader of opposition Ramesh Chennithala termed the government’s lukewarm response to the landslide victims as a clear case of discrimination. “I thought the chief minister will go from Kozhikode to Idukki and meet the injured and the kin of the deceased. It’s very unfortunate for the government to treat the poor like this,” said Ramesh, who visited the mishap site on August 9.

The chief minister dismissed the Opposition allegation that there was discrimination in providing compensation to victims of Rajamala landslide and the victims of aircraft crash at Karipur.

The solatium announced for landslide victims was an interim one and the state government will "hold together" those who have lost everything, Vijayan said at a press meet on Saturday.

Vijayan said since the rescue operations were still on for missing persons in the landslide in high range Idukki district and the government was yet to make a final assessment of the loss incurred.

"At Rajamala, we have declared the initial financial assistance. There the rescue operations are not over yet. We need to hold them together as we have the responsibility of taking care of those who lost everything. We also need to ensure their livelihood and rebuild their lives," Vijayan had said in the press meet.

Regarding the opposition allegation on his failure to meet the landslide victims, Vijayan had said that the priority of the government was to finish the rescue operations. "The rescue operations are still on there at Rajamala and our ministers are there coordinating the rescue and search operations. But the rescue operations at Karipur were finished," Vijayan said.

Revenue Minister E Chandrashekaran and Electricity Minister M M Mani are camping in Idukki and coordinating the rescue operations. Forest Minister K Raju also reached the location on Sunday morning.

Image Credit: Indian Express

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