NEW DELHI

Malta boat tragedy: Notices to Punjab, Union Government

CHANDIGARH: The ten-year old Malta boat tragedy off the coast of Greece that claimed the lives of nearly 300 persons, including many from Punjab was raised in the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Monday when a writ petition seeking directions for issuance of death certificates besides the compensation to the affected families came up for consideration.

The petition preferred by Malta Boat Tragedy Probe Mission through its president Balwant Singh Khera has highlighted through sequence the failure of the concerned authorities in the External Affairs Ministry and the Punjab Government to obviate the suffering of the petitioners . The tragedy which has come to be known as the Malta boat tragedy had taken place near Sicily where-in 300 people including 141 youngster from Punjab lost their lives.

Though the Punjab Government had then announced ex-gratia grant of Rs 50,000 to the each families, however, the same had not been disbursed so far, the petitioner alleged. Mr Khera has submitted that the Rajya Sabha had been informed on May 8, 2003 that the Punjab Government had paid compensation to 15 families, but no list of the victim families was given out.

Communication

Similarly, in response to a communication from the petitioner, the Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahmed had informed that the Punjab Government had given compensation to a total of 79 affected families. However, no list of the concerned families was released.

More importantly, in the absence of death certificates, the affected families were unable to secure insurance, compensation etc. As death certificates in such cases are given only after seven years in the event of missing persons where dead bodies are not recovered, the concerned authorities have not yet done anything in this respect even though it is over nine years now that the tragic incident took place, the petitioner said.

After the preliminary hearing the division bench of Chief Justice D K Jain and Justice Hemant Gupta issued notices for January 11 next year to the Union and the Punjab governments to respond to the issues raised in the petition.- UNI

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