Calling it a case of “grave negligence”, the Himachal Pradesh High Court on Tuesday asked the state government to file a report by June 16 on Sunday’s tragic incident in which at least 24 students were washed away by the flash-floods in the Beas river triggered by sudden release of water from a dam.
The direction from the High Court came after a huge outcry over the tragic incident and reports that the engineers at the Larji hydropower plant allegedly discharged water into the river without a warning.
Himachal Rural Development Minister Anil Sharma today admitted lapses by the Manali dam officials, which led to the tragic killing of engineering students from Telangana.
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi also spoke to Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and asked him to expedite relief and rescue work.
“RahulG keeping tab on situation in HP. Spoke to CM Himachal to ensure speedy relief and rescue. RahulG said that guilty if any should not be spared. Asked CM to ensure systems to avoid recurrence,” Congress spokesperson Ajay Maken tweeted.
Importantly, the Telangana government has decided to take legal action against the Himachal Pradesh Dam authority as well as the VNR Engineering college to which the students who drowned in the tragedy belonged to.
Telangana Home Minister Narsimha Reddy said, “The Telangana government will take legal action against the Himachal Pradesh dam authority for criminal negligence leading to the loss of innocent lives and the college authorities for taking students for a picnic by saying it was an industrial training tour.”
Meanwhile, the bodies of five of the 24 students recovered by the rescuers were flown back to Hyderabad yesterday evening. A plane carrying 22 survivors of the group also returned to Hyderabad on a special flight arranged by the Andhra Pradesh government.
As the rescue work continues for those missing, the survivors claimed that the water was released from the dam without a warning and the help from the local administration also came late.
Students who survived the Beas river tragedy in Himachal Pradesh alleged that help came hours later for them and that there was no siren to alert the people about the release of water nor any danger mark signboards on the river bank.
Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani and Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh visited the mishap site yesterday and promised stern action against those found guilty of negligence in the case.
The Chief Minister had earlier ordered a probe and suspended the erring resident engineers of the 126 MW Larji hydropower project being run by the state electricity board. A case of negligence has also been registered.
For the ill-fated group of students of the VNR Vignana Jyothi Institute of Engineering and Technology in Hyderabad, merrily taking photos on the banks of Beas river in Himachal Pradesh, tragedy struck in a matter of couple of minutes as they were washed away in the swirling waters which suddenly rose several feet.