Kannur: The Indian Oil Corporation remains non-committal on giving compensation to the victims of the gas tanker lorry disaster even more than two weeks after the tragedy which claimed the lives of 20 persons including women and children at Chala here. The director board of the IOC, which met in Mumbai on Friday, didn’t consider the proposal for giving compensation to the victims and their families.
The report concerning the estimated loss of Rs 5 crore caused by the gas tanker lorry explosion at Chala, prepared by the District Collector, hasn’t even been examined by the IOC so far. What happened at Chala on the night of August 27 was “just a road accident,” going by the stand taken by the IOC. The rehabilitation package and the compensation amount announced by the government had nothing to do with the IOC, if the stand taken by the latter is any indication.
Chief minister Oommen Chandy, who rushed to Chala the very next day of the tragedy, had announced that Rs 10 lakh would be given to the kin of those killed in the mishap even as he announced a compensation package to the families of the victims and the people living in Chala. The Chief minister had stated that he had taken up the issue with the IOC officials and that the compensation package would be borne by the IOC. The excess amount, if any, would be met by the state government, he had said.
But the IOC officials haven’t made many official visit to the place of the tragedy, although information relating to the mishap was collected through junior officials by the former. A Crime Branch probe into the mishap has begun, and the driver of the ill-fated gas tanker lorry, Kannayyan, has been in the jail for the last two weeks.
The owner of the tanker lorry, Kanmani, who is a native of Tamil Nadu, and her husband Dorai Raj, had already approached the Thalassery Sessions Court seeking anticipatory bail stating that the investigating police team was likely to arrest them. The police disclosed that no case had been filed against the owners of the tanker lorry so far.
The demand was raised by Opposition Leader V S Achuthanandan, who visited the disaster-hit Chala, a day after the Chief Minister’s second visit to the scene of the mishap when the toll was nearing 20, was to “charge the IOC with murder”! And for the IOC, “it’s just a road accident”.