Mangalore air crash: Govt's apathy, families grief

Mangalore air crash
Mangalore, May 24: Its been a year after tragedy struck the lives of 158 people who were aboard on Air India Flight 812 from Dubai. Of these only 55 families who lost their loved one's have received compensation, while other's are still waiting for it. 

According to international aviation rule, the compensation for the families should be $1.45 lakh, while families who got a mere compensation complain that the amount they got is far below the international norms.

Families that lost their children in the air crash are being offered Rs 25 lakh, while families that lost women are offered Rs 35 lakh as compensation.

"It is very annoying that the compensation is not being paid as per international norms. Therefore, 60 of the families of the victims have approached a court in London for fair compensation. We are determined in our quest for justice," said Jayarama Shetty, secretary, Mangalore Air Crash Victims' Association.

"This compensation is far less than that offered under the Montreal Convention. Each family of the victim is eligible for compensation of Rs 79 lakh and above," Shetty added.

In its announcement last year, the airline showed difference while announcing its compensation, choosing income as the criteria for those who lost their lives in the crash. Questions are being raised over the differential attitude of the policy adopted by the airline.

A compensation of Rs 90 lakh was announced for the family of a victim who earned between Rs 80,000-1.2 lakh, while the compensation amount was Rs 45 lakh for another family as the victim's monthly income was much lower.

"All the victims paid the same air fare. Is one victim's life more precious than the other? This criterion is surprising. The compensation should be uniform. Air India's announcement that the victims' families will be paid compensation within three months from the date of the accident is a big lie," said Shabbir, relative of a victim.

Law firm, Mullah & Mullah Associates were appointed by Air India to deal with the issue, after families of the victims refused to accept compensation. 

"They informed us that the compensation is being calculated as per the Carriage by Air Act, 1972. This is strange as Air India has to award compensation under the Montreal agreement," Shetty claimed.

According to him under the Carriage by Air Act, 1972, compensation may be paid if it weren't the pilot's mistake.

"Now, it is proven that the air crash took place because of the pilot's error. Therefore, the families of the victims are entitled to a fair compensation," Dr Shetty argued, adding that it was costly to fight the legal battle in London court.

Majority of the 55 families have accepted the compensation announced by Air India voluntarily, including 52 families of the victims and three survivors. Despite approaching the Kerala High Court, a victim's family has not received any recompense so far.

"The matter is before the court. It is being handled by our legal experts," an Air India official said.

OneIndia News 

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