CHANDIGARH: No body could be traced in the two-hour special search operation carried out by 600 jawans on Saturday. The water level of the river Beas was lowered for the first time to trace the remaining 16 bodies of students of VNR and a tour operator who were washed away by a strong current in Mandi last week.
Eight bodies have been recovered so far. Teams comprising personnel from the Army, Navy, NDRF, ITBP, SSB, BBMB, Himachal Pradesh police and 15 divers from Hyderabad also joined the operation on Saturday but in vain.
The water was stopped at 7 am on Saturday and jawans undertook manual and physical combing operations in the river. There is a possibility of bodies being trapped under the rocks or buried in the silt within a three-km radius of the accident spot. “The water in a three-km stretch was lowered for almost an hour by controlling the inflow to facilitate search operations,” Mandi deputy commissioner Devesh Kumar said.
Commanding officer of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) Jaideep Singh said the focus of the operation was to locate bodies trapped under boulders. “Our jawans are trying to reach each and every boulder. The divers are facing a problem of poor visibility. The river bed is full of mud and silt,” he added.
Another startling fact that has come to light is that the water from the Parvati Power Project, along with the water from the Larji dam, was released on the fateful day. “The water from the power project was released first from the dam which is located about 60 km from the Larji dam,” an official said.
Telangana home minister Nayani Narasimha Reddy, who has been camping in Mandi said he will hold meetings with state agencies and those involved in the search to chalk out a strategy for their next step.
Most of the hydro power projects are located near the rivers. They regularly release water into the rivers during generation and when there is surplus.
Fatal accidents involving tourists are higher in the 50-km stretch between Bhutnar and Manali and the 65-km stretch between Bhutnar and Manikaran. Both these stretches fall in the Kullu-Manali region which is a favourite destination for tourists.
Rs 5 Lakh Ex Gratia to Kin of Beas Victims
Hyderabad: Chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao announced Rs 5 lakh ex gratia to the families of each student who were washed away in the Beas river in Himachal Pradesh recently. Making a statement in the state Assembly here on Saturday, Rao said: ‘’while expressing our deepest condolences to bereaved families, I announce an ex gratia of Rs 5 lakh to each of them.’’ The House observed two-minute silence for the departed students. ‘’The Telangana government has requested the defence ministry for an helicopter and an Air Force aircraft to bring the bodies to Hyderabad. A defence helicopter was arranged to send the bodies from the mishap site to Chandigarh airport,’’ he said. The chief minister said that out of the 24 students who were washed away in Himachal Pradesh, eight bodies have been retrieved so far.