HC expresses dissatisfaction over handling of Beas mishap by HP govt

Shimla/June 16
Himachal High Court on Monday expressed dissatisfaction with the status report filed by the state government over Beas tragedy in which 24 B.Tech students of VNR Vigyan Jyoti Institute of Engineering and Technology, Hyderabad were drowned near Thalout in Mandi District.
The High Court also directed the state government to file status report in terms of its earlier orders. It also directed the Divisional Commissioner, Mandi to conclude the inquiry into the incident and submit report by or before June 19.
A Division Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir and Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan passed these orders on a petition taken up suo moto by the Court taking cognizance of the news reports on the tragic incident.
As per the status report filed by the state government today in the Court, the government told the Court that the cause of incident appears to be sudden increased discharge of water from Largi barrage. It told that the water level at Larji barrage was at Full reservoir level (969.50 meters) even prior to the opening of spill way gates. At 18.15 hrs on June 8, the operating staff at Larji barrage opened Radial gate No. 5 to 50 cm, thereby releasing 50 cumecs of water. The spill way gates were subsequently further opened to 1.50 meters and then to 2.50 meters increasing water spillage from 50 cumecs to 150 cumecs and above. This apparently resulted in substantial increase in water flow, which led to washing away of students. However, the exact cause will be known from the enquiry ordered into the incident.
The Government also told the Court that the relief and rescue measures were started soon after the incident as SDM, ADM, Addl. S.P. and Dy.S.P. reached the site and Police/Home Guard/Fire department personnel searched along river Beas with the help of search lights. The teams of NDRF, ITBP, SSB and Army, 2 Reserves of 3rd Indian Reserve Battalion, 44 divers from Army, BBMB and Navy, local rafters are involved in search operations.
The Government also told the Court that the D.C., Mandi, who had visited the site of the accident has reported that no warning system whatsoever was found installed at the site and there were no notice boards carrying message of warning etc. However, warning notice boards have been installed subsequently.
The Court observed that the status report do disclose the steps taken by the respondents to trace out the bodies and have also tried to explain the cause of accident, but it leads nowhere. The Court said that it was not satisfied with the status report.
The Court today also directed the Divisional commissioner, Mandi to remain present in the Court on June 19. It also impleaded the Engineering College as respondent in the case. The Court also directed the Managing Director, HP State Electricity Board Limited, Superintending Engineer (Generation) Larji Power House at Bhuntar and the Resident Engineer Largi Power Hosue Division Thalout to remain present in Court on June 19 and to file a detailed report as to how they were manning the barrage/dam and what was the mechanism and plan which they were following before discharge of water.