Saturday, December 09, 2006

Ghunsa chopper crash victims’ kin seek dues

Rue govt apathy, bias against non-govt staffers killed in tragic mishap

Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, December 8[2006]:
Ten weeks after Ghunsa chopper crash Elina Shre-stha, the wife of social worker Bijaya Kumar Shrestha who died in the tragic crash, is looking for someone who could sponsor her son and daughter’s education.
“I thought the government was with me when my husband left us. But two-and-a-half months after the tragedy, it seems to have forgotten his life’s contribution to the state,” she told this correspondent. Elina, who is a housewife, has a 10-year-old son and a five-year-old daughter.
Bijaya Kumar had been engaged with dozens of social organisations in Taplejung in remote north-east Nepal. He was involved in social and economic development and bio-diversity conservation projects in the area, before he died in the ill-fated chopper crash in September.
Bijaya Raj Acharya, 75-year-old father of Dr Bijnan Acharya, Program Development Specialist, USAID, is also looking for someone to take care of his family, as his two younger sons are still studying. Dr Binjan too had died in the crash. He said whatever his son did was for the nation and the government should at least feel that his loss should be compensated.
Dr Sumitra Manandhar Gurung, wife of the country representative of WWF Nepal Program Dr Chandra Gurung, another victim of the crash, too condemned the government apathy. “The government has ignored the voice of the victims’ kin who had undergone mental trauma and were facing economic hardships,” she said.
She added that other than expressing condolence on the demise of conservation heroes the government has done nothing to honour them. Moreover, the victims’ families are yet to receive the insurance money from Shree Air.
The government has already compensated the families of state minister Gopal Rai, whose wife Meena Rai also died in the crash, and other government staffers killed in the tragic mishap. The government staffers were also promoted posthumously.
“We are hurt to see the government discriminating among its citizens,” rued Bijaya Raj Acharya.
The victims’ families are planning to hand over a memorandum to the prime minister seeking government’s due recognition of the victims and compensation for their kin.

Govt told to chip in

KATHMANDU: Families of those killed in the Shree Air helicopter crash in September have urged the government to form a compensation coordination committee to be led by Tourism Secretary Madhav Ghimire. A Cabinet decision on November 7 had endorsed a proposal to provide compensation of Rs 2 million to the family of the late State Minister for Forest and Soil Conservation Gopal Rai and his wife Meena Rai who died in the crash in Ghunsa, Taplejung. The government has already provided the compensation to the late minister’s family and Rs 1 million each to the families of three government officials and two journalists of Nepal Television.
Tourism Minister Pra-dip Gyawali and Tourism Secretary Ghimire had pr-omised the victims’ families the compensation.
However, a government source, requesting anonymity, said the government is considering providing compensation to the families of all those who died in the crash. — HNSGovt told to chip in