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RiotsWhen Romila Hasina from Ahmedabad waves a Rs 100 cheque in her name as compensation for the communal riots in Gujarat which shook the entire nation, it is appalling to know that such was done after the loss in her house was estimated close to Rs 3 lac; the loss of her loved ones is too great to be evaluated.

The plight of victims from natural calamities, communal riots, chemical tragedies and even war have gone from bad to worse. With only bills being passed in the Rajya Sabha, their implementation is barely ever seen. Take the bill introduced in the Rajya Sabha on July 28, 2006 which ensures ‘on paper’ that it shall provide protection to farmers who are frequently affected by natural calamities through monetary compensation. A bill which people of drought stricken Gujarat have yet to hear of. The loss due to natural calamities and sporadic incidents of communalism is unavoidable, but it is the state which must ensure that its people are willing and able to rise out of them, ensuring them a better tomorrow.

On the contrary our government, a silent spectator in most cases, has found a way to reveal the ugly face of its politics in such sensitive issues as well. In an act to garner more votes in Gujarat, the center, ahead of the elections, announced a Rs 70.55-crore package for victims of the 2002 sectarian violence; the disbursement of which people still await.

The unparalleled disaster which saw tones of toxic gases being released and killing thousands was a gross undervaluation of poor people’s lives. The victims of the Gas tragedy in Bhopal, which occurred 22 years ago, are still battling with the after effects of the noxious gas leak. Moreover, the plea for enhanced compensation to the victims of this tragedy was turned down by the SC .Our courts need to deal with people on a one to one basis ensuring fair justice and adequate compensation for their losses, for the loss of an earning member of the family does require long term compensation.

The government must now realize that it is high time they consider and act upon the rehabilitation and compensation of victims of such heinous tragedies. It is true that the loss of a loved one is irreplaceable, but the least that can be done to assist the affected in coping with it is by monetary assistance.

Amanjit Singh Khanna

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