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13-year wait over for Dabwali fire victims
Sushil Manav
Tribune News Service

Sirsa, April 2
After a tormenting wait for thirteen years of a worst fire accident and six years of setting up of the Justice TP Garg Commission of inquiry by the Punjab and Haryana High Court to ascertain the quantum of compensation and fixing liability for that, the victims have finally got the final report of the commission in their hands.

DAV Centenary Public School, Dabwali, in whose annual function the inferno had devoured 442 persons and gave life-long burn injuries to 150 others on December 23, 1995, will have to pay the major part of 80 per cent of the compensation of Rs 18,11,10,897 awarded to the families of 405 death victims and 88 injured on whose behalf the petition had been filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 1996, according to Anju Arora and Rajesh Rani Girdhar, advocates for the Dabwali Fire Victims Association, who have been fighting the case since 1996.

MP Bidlan, presently, a member of the Haryana Public Service Commission and the then DC, Sirsa, who was chief guest of the DAV Centenary School’s function, has been held negligent in discharge of his public duty, has been held liable to pay 10 per cent of the whole amount of compensation.

This amount, however, will have to be paid to the victims by the state government due to its vicarious liability, the commission has said.

The commission has also held the municipal committee, Dabwali, negligent of its duty and held it liable to pay 5 per cent of the whole sum of compensation. The share of municipal committee will also have to be paid by the state government.

The Haryana State Electricity Board, presently working in the area as the Dakshin Haryana Bijlee Vitran Nigam (DHBVN) will have to pay 5 per cent of the whole amount of compensation.

The share of the DHBVN will also have to be paid by the state government but it would be entitled to recover the amount from the nigam later on, said the report.

The Justice TP Garg Commission, which was set up in 2003 to give its report in six months had submitted its interim report on compensation for 403 death cases in September 2008 and had awarded a compensation of Rs 13,67,10,897 to their families.

The commission had submitted its second interim report with regard to compensation to 88 injured persons in December 2008 and had awarded a compensation of Rs 4.44 crore for them. The commission had said at that time that the liabilities would be fixed on the respondents in its final report.

The commission has left the matter of interest on the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which will also decide the period for which the interest is to be paid to the victims.

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