Victims yet to be paid full compensation

Moinul Haque

Even in two years since the Rana Plaza collapse full compensation has not been paid to the families of the dead and the injured.
Collapse of Rana Plaza, housing several apparel factories, on April 24, 2013, killed over 1,100 people, mostly female apparel workers and left several hundred others maimed and missing.
The incident is known as the world’s worst factory building disaster.
Some of the survivors, who received negligible sums of money as compensation from the Donor Trust Fund, raised questions about the assessment methods followed.
They said that they were finding the government as well as the clothing factory owners and the buyers equally insensitive to the pains and hardship they are going through since Rana Plaza, housing several apparel factories, collapsed in April 2013.
A committee led by the International Labour Organization was formed in Geneva to co-ordinate payment of compensations within months.
The Coordination committee comprised of global brands, local and international trade unions and NGOs and representatives of   Bangladesh government and the apparel industry.
The committee created a $40 million Donor Trust Fund for the payment of compensations to all the survivors and the families of deceased workers.
Later, the committee reduced the compensation fund to$30 million leaving a  shortfall  of $6 million.
Recently, Italian fashion retailer Benetton  announced it would contribute $1.1million to the fund.
‘It’s a shame for all of us including the global brands that even after two years  since Rana Plaza collapsed the  survivors and the dependents of the deceased workers are still waiting to get the  compensations,’ Roy Ramesh Chandra, general secretary of IndustriALL Bangladesh Council and member of Rana Plaza Coordination Committee told New Age Monday.
According to the Rana Plaza Claims Administration a total of 2,968 claims were  received from the dependents of the deceased and missing workers and the survivors.
It said that 59 more claims might be included in the list after further verification.
The rate of compensation was worked out according to Section 121 of the ILO Convention, it said.
The Rana Plaza Claims Administration fixed  Tk 1.7 lakh as the
compensation for Nilufa Begum, operator of Phantom Apparel who received injuries on her head, leg and chest.
Doctor’s advised amputation of Nilufa’s leg after her condition deteriorated following long treatment at Dhaka Medical College Hospital and the Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralyzed, better known as CRP at Savar.
‘They say that I will get only Tk 1.7 lakh in compensation though I am going to be permanently disabled,’ she said with a blank look.
Nilufa said shw could not understand what  compensation assessment method was followed.
Nilufa asked, ‘How do they expect me to accept such a small amount in compensation? How will I support myself with such a small compensation?’
Nilufar Yeasmin, another survivor, said she is unable to work since she had crippled and traumatized by injuries on her waist.
‘I am scared of buildings and I cannot sleep at night and due to severe hardship I am unable to pay house rent and tuition fee of my daughter,’ Nilufar said.
‘I was paid only Tk 50,000 as the compensation from the trust fund,’ she said.
Roy Ramesh said that assessment of the compensations for the survivors was not correct.
He said reassessment was needed and  special cases deserved to be addressed with special attention.
Ramesh said Benetton announced to contribute $1.1million to the fund when but coordination committee demanded $5 million.
‘Despite our appeals, brands like Walmart, Gap Inc who had business relations with the factories housed in Rana Plza are yet to contribute to the trust fund,’ he said.
Rana Plaza collapsed on April 24, 2013.
In response to a call from prime minister Sheikh Hasina, government and non-government organizations, banks, insurance companies, schools, colleges and a good number of individuals, donated Tk 127,67,33,349 to her relief fund between April 29 and July 8 last year, agriculture minister Matia Chowdhury told Parliament on July 14.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association contributed Tk two crore to the fund.

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