Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Couple killed in tree fall, Chennai Corporation told to pay Rs 23.76 lakh to son

The Chennai Corporation responsible for the death of a couple who were killed when a tree fell on their car, the Madras high court on Monday awarded a compensation of Rs 23.76 lakh to their only son. The couple and their son Karthik, then 14 years old, were returning from a shopping trip when the tragedy struck in 2005. A precariously standing tree on Dr Alagappa Road at Purasawalkam fell on the car, crushing the couple to death and injuring the boy. Karthik was a Class VIII student of a school in Mogappair at the time. His father C Krishnamurthy was an engineer employed as an assistant director at the Highways Research Station here and mother K Chitra was a homemaker. The boy had to discontinue his studies in the city, and resume it at a government school in Salem after a year. Noting that the deaths were due to the carelessness of the corporation authorities, the boy's grandfather wrote to the government seeking Rs 15 lakh compensation. He said the tragedy deprived the boy of love and affection, natural care and guidance at a crucial time of his life. As there was no response from the government, which had given Rs 1 lakh compensation, a petition seeking Rs 15 lakh compensation for the death of Krishnamurthy and Rs 7 lakh for the death of Chitra was filed. The government told the court that it could not be held responsible for the accidental deaths caused by a natural calamity. Karthik's counsel, however, pointed out that after the deaths, the corporation officials went on an enumeration drive and found that 877 trees had to be cut and removed. They also removed 85 trees in the city. Had those steps been taken earlier, the deaths would not have occurred, he argued. Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar, pointing out that the youth's father was aged 42 years when the accident took place, said: "There is negligence on the part of the officials of the corporation in not cutting and removing the dangerous trees and two precious lives were lost."

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