x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Air India crash families suffer compensation delays

Families who lost relatives in the Air India Express crash in May in Mangalore seek to meet meet Indian PM over delays in compensation.

DUBAI // Families of Air India Express crash victims will meet today to plan a joint complaint about compensation delays.

Members of at least 20 families who lost relatives in the crash in Mangalore  in May, which killed 158 people, will gather in Dubai.

There, they will lay out plans to ask the Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh, and the Congress Party leader, Sonia Gandhi, to resolve grievances over what they view as unnecessary delays to their claims.

They may also issue a joint statement today.

 Rafeeq Eroth, the president of the Malabar Pravasi Co-ordination Council, which is helping families connect with each other, said: "What we must do is make the government back in India take notice of their pain."

While relatives are contemplating taking the airline to court, concern over likely delays in any legal action filed in India has led them to explore other options. Claims after the Union Carbide disaster of the 1980s took more than 20 years to finalise.

"Cases take so long in India [and] the initial objective should be to get compensation through," Mr Eroth said.

"Many families have lost their breadwinner," he said. "They need financial support."

Air India said it has paid families 1 million rupees (Dh83,000) each as interim compensation.

The company has also appointed the Mumbai-based law firm Mulla and Mulla to handle final compensation.

The Indian civil aviation minister Praful Patel reportedly said in May that the airline would give as much as US$160,000 (Dh588,000) to each victim's family.

Indians in Dubai claimed they had submitted the required documents, but the law firm has not contacted them yet.

H.N. Nanavati, a partner at Mulla and Mulla, said the firm is pro-active, and each case must be assessed separately by collecting facts from family members.

"We, therefore, deny that we can be accused of any delay on our part and do believe that we are doing our utmost to settle the claims as expeditiously as possible and in a fair and proper manner," Mr. Nanavati said.

The family members will meet at Flora Grand Hotel on Rigga Street at 4pm.