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 in Andhra Pradesh on March 15, finally relented last week after 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 families of the victims 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 last week and handed over a cheque of `8 lakh to each family. Wife of Venkateswarlu, Kotamma, and son Guravayya and Rambabu’s son and daughter Vijaychand and Gayatri received the cheque from the commissioner.
The VMC had already paid Rs 2 lakh compensation to each family last week. 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 5 lakh to both the families under the Chandranna Bheema scheme.
He also appreciated this newspaper 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, in fact, gone down the manhole himself to try and rescue Rambabu and Venkateswarlu.
Sawang presented cash awards to the duo at the city police office. Earlier, Baiyappanahalli police arrested three officials of Ramky Infrastructure for the death of three manual scavengers, who had suffocated to death while clearing a blocked manhole at Kagadaspura on March 7.
The accused K Babu Reddy, AGM (Projects), N T Reddy, Manager (Projects) and a sub-contractor of the firm were arrested in Hyderabad. Other accused are still absconding.