June 20, 2014 | By Parmjeet Singh
Mandi, Himachal Pradesh (June 20, 2014): According to a news reported by NDTV [a]n inquiry report on the death of 24 students and a tour guide near Mandi on June 8, who were flooded away when water was released into the river without warning from the nearby Larji Hydropower project, has blamed the dam authorities for the tragedy.
The students from the V N R Vignana Jyothi Institute of Engineering and Technology in Hyderabad were on an excursion to Manali. They, along with the tour operator, were washed away into the turbulent Beas River by a wall of water.
The inquiry was conducted by Mandi’s Divisional Commissioner Onkar Sharma, who submitted the report to the Himachal Pradesh High Court.
The High Court had also sought a report from the project authorities.
The report has claimed glaring lapses and failure on the part of the Larji project authorities who, claims the report, ignored standard procedures and released water from the barrage into Beas River.
A division bench of Chief Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir and Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan, which treated a media report as a public interest litigation, asked the state to file status report by June 24 on the steps taken on the inquiry report.
In the inquiry report, the Divisional Commissioner said the discharge of water in spillways was raised from 20 cumecs or cubic metres per second to 450 cumecs within one hour.
“There are no standard operating procedures related to release of water from the barrage. The officers involved in powerhouse operation and those handling barrage operations are not working in tandem…,” the report said.
“The warning system is also inadequate. All this constitutes a systemic failure due to wrong and entrenched faulty procedure and practices prevalent at the Largi project,” said the probe report.
The bench directed the engineering college to file an affidavit containing details about who made the decision to allow the students to visit Himachal Pradesh and the concerned site.
Three more bodies of students were found on Thursday, taking the total number of bodies recovered so far to 13.
11 students and the tour operator are still missing.
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