A special meeting of the Cabinet on Monday announced a compensation package for the victims of the recent gas tanker accident at Chala in Kannur district and a slew of measures to ensure road safety.

The accident has claimed 19 lives and injured many. As the tanker caught fire, several houses, shops, vehicles, and crop have been damaged.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told the media after the meeting that a solatium of Rs.10 lakh each would be paid to next of kin of those who died in the accident. The Indian Oil Corporation will be asked to give jobs to a member each of their families. Families which are unable to avail themselves of the benefit will be given a monthly family pension of Rs.5,000 each. The government will bear all the expenses for the treatment of the injured. Besides, persons who have suffered 40 per cent or more burns will be provided Rs.5 lakh each. Those who have suffered less than 40 per cent burns would get Rs.2 lakh each.

The government had already provided Rs.10,000 for each of the dead and injured to meet contingency expenses. An additional Rs.10,000 will be provided immediately to those who are still in hospital.

Mr. Chandy said compensation would be paid for destruction or damage to houses, shops, vehicles, and crops. The Collector has estimated the loss to houses and household utensils at Rs.1 crore and that to shops and goods at Rs.75 lakh. Loss from destruction of crops and vehicles amounts to Rs.35 lakh and Rs.5 lakh respectively. The Collector has been asked to give a report to the Chief Secretary regarding any other damage that merits compensation.

Road safety

The Cabinet sanctioned Rs.57.34 crore for improvement of roads around the location of the accident and road safety measures across the State. Based on the demands made by the local people and people’s representatives, Rs.10 crore will be provided for widening the Thazhechovva-Puthiyatheruvu road immediately using available land. The divider at the accident spot has been removed and alternatives arrangements will be made. The Chala-Nadal bypass road will be widened, acquiring land from the Railways. A sum of Rs.2.15 crore has been sanctioned for widening and straitening the 5-km stretch.

The Chief Minister said the four-laning of National Highways 17 and 47 would be taken up immediately, avoiding further delays. Construction of bypasses including Kannur and Thalassery-Mahe bypasses will be completed at the earliest. Central assistance will be sought for this.

Road safety audit

The Public Works Department will be asked to conduct road safety auditing of all important roads within two months. The Collectors will be directed to remove all encroachments along national and State highways. Unauthorised parking at major junctions and towns will be checked.

Mr. Chandy said 216 accident-prone black spots had been identified along the highways for rectification. Rectification work on 60 black spots has been completed at a cost of Rs.4.5 crore. The remaining spots will be rectified in three phases at a cost of Rs.24 crore. In the second and third phases, rectification of 50 black spots each will be taken up at a cost of Rs.8.5 crore and Rs.5.5 crore respectively. The work on remaining 66 spots will be taken up in the last phase, spending Rs.10 crore.

Steps will be taken to remove dividers placed unscientifically along highways. Reflectors, hazard symbols, road signs, and markers will be set up in case of other dividers and structures and Rs.33.13 crore has been earmarked for the purpose. The Road Safety Authority will be requested to consider the proposals regarding these.

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