Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Uttarakhand missing declared dead

Two and a half months after the worst-ever deluge in Uttarakhand, thousands of people who went missing have now beeen officially declared dead. So far, they were only feared to have died since their bodies were untraced despite rescue operations.

The Uttarakhand government on Monday decided to officially declare thousands of missing persons dead, Additional Secretary and Director Information Meenakshi Sundaram told Deccan Herald on Tuesday.

Sundaram said the process to issue death certificates would begin after necessary documents were provided by the next of kin of the deceased. The death certificates would only be issued for people whose names have been included in the missing persons list. “The Centre has accorded special permission for this,” Sundaram added.

Less than 600 bodies have been recovered, but there are an estimated 6,054 people who have died in the floods. Of these, 5,474 are untraceable. The decision state’s comes after rounds of deliberations with the Centre.

The decision was circulated by the state government only after the Centre accorded its approval to declare the missing persons as dead.

The decision paves way for award of compensation announced by the Centre and various state governments. It also attempts to clears all legal hurdles on issues relating to inheritance of movable and immovable property by legal heirs even in cases where the person died intestate.

Life insurance claims, too, can only be addressed provided there are valid death certificates. Sources said a person missing under “normal” circumstances could only be declared dead after a mandatory period of seven years.

However, in this case, the permission was granted as a special case given the magnitude of the tragedy. The exception to the rule was also made in the case of Tamil Nadu when scores of people lost their lives in the tsunami.

Until recently, the Uttarakhand government had been maintaining that these untraced people could only be “feared as dead” since the bodies had not been recovered.

In the absence of a death certificate, it was not possible to provide the Centre’s compensation of Rs 3 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased. The number of dead could rise once all the debris is cleared in Kedarnath, which was the epicentre of the disaster.

Tuesday 3 September 2013



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