CHANDIGARH: The bodies of five Hyderabad-based engineering students, who were feared drowned along with 21 others, following the release of water from Lalrji Dam, were retrieved from the Beas on Monday.
As search is on for the other missing students who were on a tour here, a resident engineer has been suspended and a case has been registered against staff on charges of negligence.
On visiting the spot, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh ordered a magisterial inquiry by Mandi Divisional Commissioner to fix responsibility for the tragedy and suggest measures to stop recurrence of such incidents.
A case has also been registered against the staff for negligence and not forewarning the people before releasing water from the dam.Though the bodies of three girls and two boys have been retrieved, the chances of survival of the missing students are slim as the river current is very strong.
Himachal Pradesh DGP Sanjay Kumar said that the group of 65 students, who were returning from Manali, had stopped there for a photo session. “Suddenly, the water level rose and 24 students – 18 boys and six girls – were washed away.”
The discharge of water increased suddenly and caught everyone unawares as the project authorities released the water apparently without any warning. The incident has sparked protests in the area with people blocking the Mandi-Manali highway. The 24 students, who did not go to the river bank, were safe but in shock.
The Ministry of Home Ministry has sought a report from the state on the incident. Meanwhile, there was confusion on the number of bodies being recovered as the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) said five bodies have been found, while state authorities said that only four bodies were found. The 70-member rescue teams comprised two battalions of SSB, assisted by police, homeguard and local divers and rafters. People living along the riverside have been asked to alert the police if any person was sighted.
Terming the incident as unfortunate, the CM said, “Students had come with teachers. I think the teachers should have taken precaution that the students did not go to the riverbed. But anyway I do not want to blame anybody.”