Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has ruled that the quota in jobs provided for earthquake-hit people in Latur and Osmanabad districts of Maharashtra would also cover the quake-victims of Koyna Dam region, particularly in Patan teshil of Satara district. While a devastating earthquake had struck Latur and Osmanabad in 1993, major quakes had also caused extensive damage in Koyna river valley in 1967 and in 1993.
Two government resolutions of 1994 and 1995 provided five per cent reservation in government jobs for quake-hit residents of Latur and Osmanabad. Public interest litigations filed in the High Court contended that the benefit should also be extended to victims of Koyna valley region. The division bench of Justices Abhay Oka and A S Gadkari upheld the contention of the petitioners Suresh Vithal Pawar and Shambhuraj Shivajirao Desai on February 11.
The benefit is applicable for those whose houses or businesses were completely destroyed. However, only one person per family can apply. The government’s reply to the PILs said the reservation was meant exclusively for residents of 52 villages in Latur and Osmanabad districts. But the High Court pointed out that two of the three criteria mentioned in the GR issued on August 9, 1995 do not refer to any particular region, so it can be assumed that they cover all quake-affected areas of the state. The HC however made it clear that it was not dealing with the question whether the benefit will be available to those affected by earthquakes after August 9, 1995. This issue had been kept open, it said.
On a request by government pleader M P Thakur, the bench stayed the ruling for six weeks to enable the government to file appeal.