Thursday, September 29, 2011

23 days after Indian Air Force MiG crash in his field, government yet to calculate farmer’s loss

When on September 6, an MiG crashed into his paddy field near Shambu barrier, the Indian Air Force officials told 66-year-old Prem Chand not to worry and assured him that he would be duly compensated for the loss.

The only thing Chand needed to do to get the compensation from the IAF was to submit an estimate of loss calculated and certified by government officials.

“An IAF official told me that the (crashed) aircraft was insured and they would get compensation from the insurance company. He advised me to get the estimates of my loss calculated by the local authorities and submit the same to IAF to claim the compensation,” Chand told The Indian Express on Thursday.

Ironically, more than three weeks after the crash, he is still running from one government office to another to get his loss estimated.

IAF authorities say they are waiting for the “certified estimates from civil officials”. The claim for compensation can be processed only after they gate the estimates.

Chand claimed that he managed to get loss of crop estimated at Rs 30,000 after an assessment by the Ghanaur Naib Tehsildar and Patwari of the area. He also submitted an undertaking saying he “did not have the insurance cover for the crop”.

“I lost the crop in about a bigha of land. But the bigger loss is due to the huge quantity of aircraft fuel that spilled over from the crashed MiG. A huge chunk of land has now been rendered infertile due to the seepage of fuel,” he claimed.

“As per my estimates, which I reached at after speaking to the experts, about Rs 1 lakh is required to lift the oil-laden soil and replace it with normal soil,” Chand, who retired as a teacher, said, alleging that the government officials are either not serious about his case or are unaware of the procedure.

“Patiala deputy commissioner marked my application to Rajpura sub-divisional magistrate (SDM), who in turn marked it to Ghanur Naib Tehsildar to make estimate for loss caused to land by oil spillage. When I inquired from Ghanaur Naib Tehsildar, he said, it was PWD (buildings & roads) who is supposed to make such an assessment. I went to the PWD office at Patiala, but was told that SDO was in a meeting at Rajpura. When I called up at his office today, a clerk from his office said that it is the Panchayati Raj SDO who is the right official to prepare such an estimate,” Chand said, narrating his ordeal.

Contacted, Patiala DC, Vikas Garg said a physical verification of the land affected by oil spillage has to be done. “From my office, the application had to be routed through SDM, who was to decide on marking the same to the concerned official,” Garg said.

Rajpura SDM J K Jain was not available for comment. A call to his office was answered by a woman who said Jain was on leave till October 10.

Meanwhile, an IAF official in the loop for forwarding such loss estimates to authorities at New Delhi, said that the certified estimates from civil authorities were still awaited. “His (Chand’s) case for compensation could be processed by IAF only if certified estimates by civil authorities reach us and we forward them to higher authorities at New Delhi,” he said.

Notably, the MiG-21 Bison fighter aircraft had crashed into Prem Chand’s paddy field on September 6, while pilot had ejected to safety. The crash had taken place near Shambu barrier, about 15 km from Rajpura in Patiala district. The crash site was few meters away from busy National Highway. The aircraft was on a routine sortie and was returning to Ambala from Rajpura side.

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