VIJAYAWADA: The Vijayawada Municipal Corporation (VMC), which had been dragging its feet in paying compensation to the kin of two conservancy workers, who had died while clearing a manhole at Bhavanipuram here on March 15, finally relented on Friday following the intervention of the municipal administration department.
Following directions from the government, the VMC paid the compensation out of its own funds, in accordance with the Supreme Court directive of March, 2014 that Rs 10 lakh must be given to the kin of families in case of manhole deaths. The two workers, K Rambabu and P Venkateswarlu, had died of suffocation after getting into an 18-ft deep manhole to clear clogged sewer lines at Bhavanipuram.
Sources said Principal Secretary, municipal administration and urban development, R Karikal Valaven directed Commissioner of VMC G Veerapandian to take immediate steps for payment of Rs 10 lakh compensation each to the kin of the two victims. The commissioner, who remained tight-lipped on the tragedy despite protests from the two bereaved families, invited them to his office on Friday morning and handed over a cheque for Rs 8 lakh each to them.
Wife of Venkateswarlu, Kotamma, and son Guravayya and Rambabu’s son and daughter Vijaychand and Gayatri received the cheque from the commissioner. The VMC has already paid Rs 2 lakh compensation to each family on Thursday. The VMC has also promised to provide a house under JNNURM and a contract job to a member of the each bereaved family.
Besides, the labour department has promised to pay compensation of Rs five lakh to both the families under the Chandranna Bheema scheme. Karikal Valaven said the families would get whatever benefits they were eligible for, as per SC order.
He appreciated Express for highlighting the issue. Meanwhile, Commissioner of Police, Vijayawada, D Gautam Sawang, congratulated constable Md Masthan and SI Abdul Salam of the Bhavanipuram police station for trying to help the workers on the ill-fated day.
Masthan had, infact, gone down the manhole himself to try and rescue Rambabu and Venkateswarlu. Sawang presented cash awards to the duo at the city police office.
Masthan was deputed to the Bhavanipuram police station only last week. Director General of Police (DGP) N Sambasiva Rao also asked the Commissioner to recommend the names of Masthan and Salam for special rewards, sources told Express.
CPM’s Capital Region Coordination Committee convenor Ch Babu Rao, who had been championing the cause of the workers, expressed happiness over the payment of compensation to the bereaved families.