NHRC asks UP to give relief to families of Saharanpur fire victims

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New Delhi, Mar 20 (UNI) Holding the UP government accountable for failure of obligation, NHRC has asked it to give monetary relief to families of eleven factory workers who lost their lives in the October 2004 Saharanpur fire.

''Since the authorities concerned or the employers were negligent in preventing the violation of human rights of the workers and they did not even deposit the compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Act, the State becomes more liable,'' the Commission in its order.

It has given the state government six weeks time to respond.

Coming down heavily on the District Magistrate and the Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation, the Commission said they appeared to have forgotten the obligation to protect the Workmen and give relief to their families.

''They left the workers at the mercy of the employer. The illiterate workers and their families may not have even known that they were entitled to compensation and how to get it,'' it added.

The explosion in the cracker factory at Rakesh Cinema Road, Saharanpur, was brought to the Commission's notice by Campaign Against Child Labour Convenor Jitendra Singh.

A police report was forwarded to the Commission by the Saharanpur District Magistrate while another report was received from the UP Labour Commissioner.

Both the reports revealed that FIR was registered against the proprietor/manager of the factory. One of the reports further revealed that adequate fire extinguishing equipment was not installed in the factory.

The other report highlighted that the factory was not registered under the Shop and Establishment Act and had started functioning only two months before the incident. The report said the employer had not deposited the compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Act and the dependants of the victims were advised to file claims.

NHRC observed that the State is under a substantive protective obligation to ensure the safety of workers engaged in hazardous occupations and provide proper relief to the affected persons in the event of mishap.

''The law confers sufficient powers on the State to enable it to discharge this obligation,'' it added.

UNI NR Mir RK1815

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