Gujarat High Court criticises government over Vadodara Harani Lake tragedy report

The High Court questioned the inquiry conducted stating that the report appeared to be protecting the then-municipal commissioner.
People gather during a rescue and search operation after the Vadodara Harani Lake tragedy
People gather during a rescue and search operation after the Vadodara Harani Lake tragedyPhoto | PTI

AHMEDABAD: In a public interest petition hearing on Thursday, the Gujarat High Court strongly criticised the Gujarat government regarding the Vadodara Harani Lake tragedy.

The court remarked, "From the wording of the report, it seems that an attempt is being made to place the entire blame on the technical team and the contractor." The Gujarat government presented the inquiry committee's report to the High Court today in a sealed cover.

The High Court questioned the inquiry conducted by the committee and the principal secretary of the urban department, stating that the report appeared to be protecting the then-municipal commissioner. The tragedy, involved private school children boating in the Harni Lake zone when their boat capsized, resulting in the loss of 14 lives, including 12 children.

On January 18, a tragic incident occurred in Vadodara's Harni Lake zone when a boat carrying private school children suddenly capsized, resulting in the deaths of 14 people, including 12 children. Following this incident, a Public Interest Petition was filed, and the matter is currently being heard in the Gujarat High Court. Today, another hearing took place in the court.

People gather during a rescue and search operation after the Vadodara Harani Lake tragedy
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At the commencement of the hearing, the Chief Justice's bench opened the sealed report of the inquiry committee appointed by the state government. The bench raised objections to the contents of the report, questioning the investigation conducted by both the inquiry committee and the principal secretary of the urban department. The court remarked that the report appeared to protect the then municipal commissioner while attempting to place the entire blame on the technical team and the contractor.

After reading the report, the High Court asked the Advocate General whether they should accept the report presented by the inquiry committee, noting that accepting the report could potentially increase the difficulty for the Principal Secretary.

Subsequently, Advocate General Kamal Trivedi requested time to review the inquiry committee's report. The Gujarat High Court granted this request, and a detailed hearing on the matter is now scheduled for July 4.

Notably, during the previous hearing, the court had questioned how tenders were awarded to individuals responsible for managing processes such as boating in the lake zone.

Upon reviewing the report submitted today, the court expressed strong displeasure, as it had requested an impartial investigation and a report on the actions of those involved, including the then municipal commissioner.

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