By Bizodisha Bureau, Bhubaneswar, October 4, 2020: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has directed the Odisha Government to pay additional compensation of Rs two lakh over and above the state’s sanctioned ex-gratia of Rs one lakh to the family members of the minor girl, who had died after falling into a container of boiling dal in a school hostel in Koraput district in 2014.

Acting on a petition filed by lawyer and rights activist Radhakanta Tripathy, the commission passed this direction and sought compliance report along with proof of payment by October 15. The petitioner on November 24, 2014 in a petition had sought corrective measures against these mishaps.

He also urged the NHRC to investigate the case and direct the Government to pay exemplary compensation to the family members of the deceased. The failure of the Education department in ensuring basic human rights while serving midday meals resulted in the death, he alleged.

Basanti Barik (14), a Class IX student of Baligaon Girls’ High School in Boipariguda block, had fallen into the hot dal vessel while waiting in the queue for the mid-day meal in her hostel run by the ST and SC Development department. She succumbed to burn injuries at the district headquarters hospital (DHH) on November 20, 2014.

Basanti had fallen unconscious while waiting in the queue and fell into the dal container. With over 30 per cent burn injuries, she was rushed to the Sub-Divisional hospital at Jeypore and later shifted to Koraput DHH where she died.

Though the State Government during the hearing had informed that the girl’s family was paid an ex-gratia of Rs one lakh after the unfortunate incident, the Commission observed the amount was not sufficient and issued show case as to why an additional compensation of Rs two lakh would not be paid.

Since the Government did not submit the reply of the notice despite reminders, the Commission in its recent order confirmed its recommendation of additional compensation of Rs two lakh. The Chief Secretary has been asked to submit the compliance report on the payment of Rs two lakh as well as the proof of ex-gratia payment.

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