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Delay alleged in disbursal of damages under SC/ST Act

Activists have alleged inordinate delay in disbursal of compensation by Adi Dravidar and Tribal Welfare Department (ADTW) in Madurai to victims and their family members in cases booked under Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

According to them, the amount of compensation pending for victims and their family members went up from around Rs. 72 lakh in March 2017 to more than Rs. 1.45 crore by May 2018.

B. Pandiaraja, member, Madurai District Vigilance and Monitoring Committee for SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, said that the issue was often highlighted in the periodic meetings of the committee since March 2017. “However, no concrete steps have been taken,” he said.

V. T. Nagarajan, State deputy secretary of the farmers’ wing of Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, said that since awareness of compensation under the Act was poor, many eligible beneficiaries did not even approach the department for it. “The amended Act substantially increases the compensation for different types of atrocities faced by Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The amount is released in instalments at different stages of the case – from filing of FIR to filing of charge sheet and conviction. However, many victims are unaware of this process,” he said “Those who approach the department are also often made to run from pillar to post by officials,” he alleged.

Mr. Pandiaraja pointed out that Vice-Chairman of National Commission for Scheduled Castes L. Murugan, during an earlier visit to Madurai, urged the officials to avoid delay in disbursal of compensation. “The Vigilance and Monitoring Committee members are planning to meet Madurai Collector soon to highlight the issue,” he added.

Steps under way

When contacted, S. Natarajan, who recently took charge as Collector, said that the issue was brought to his notice and steps were already under way to disburse the pending amount to all beneficiaries at the earliest. “I have asked officials to make use of all the available funds for settlement soon,” he said.

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