Shimla: The Himachal Pradesh High Court in a suo moto action registered a public interest litigation over Kullu dam tragedy and directed the chief secretary to file a status report about cause of incident, the rescue and relief operation, details about warning systems installed at Larji dam site and the procedures observed before discharge of water that washed away 24 engineering students of a Hyderabad based institute on yesterday evening.
The court gave the chief secretary time till 16 June to file the status report.
Making a media report the basis of registering the case, vacation judge Justice Tarlok Chauhan observed, ‘ in case the water has been discharged without any warning as alleged, then prima-facie, it is established that it is not only a case of callousness, but a case of grave negligence on the part of the project authorities.”
Justice Chauhan also noted, “it cannot be said to be an error of judgement or accident inasmuch as it was the duty of the authorities to have atleast issued warning and resorted to the usual and common method blaring the siren so as to ensure evacuation of the river bank before discharging of water.
Yesterday evening, at about 6.15 p.m., 24 students from VNR Jyoti Institute of Engineering, Hyderabad, who were on a excursion to Manali, were washed away in Beas River because water from Larji Project was allegedly discharged without any prior information.
Other than the chief, secretary home, secretary power, managing direct HP State Electricity Board, DGP, District magistrates and SPs of Kullu and Mandi, superintending and resident engineers of Larji project have been made respondents to the public interest litigation.
Meanwhile chief minister Virbhadra visited the accident site early in the morning to oversee the rescue and relief operations. Union minister for human resource development Smriti Irani also visited the site.
Divers from disaster action force, ITBP and BBMB were pressed into service and by evening only 4 bodies were recovered. The bodies of four persons recovered have been identified as Akula Vijetha, Banothu Rambabu, Gampala Aishwarya and Lakshmi Gayathri Appanabhotla.
List of missing persons put out in a HP government release includes Ashish Mantha, Bairineni Ritwik, Dasari Srinidhi, Devasish Bose, Baswraj Sandeep, Gonoor Arvind Kumar, Kalluri Sree Harsha, Kasarla Rishitha Reddy, M Siva Prakash Verma, M Vishnuvardhan Reddy, Macharla Akhil, Mittapelli Akhil, Muppidi Kiran Kumar, Nerudu Jagadish Mudiraj, P Venkata Durga Tarun, MD Sabir Hussain Shaik, P Ridhima, B Mahen Sai Raj, T Upender, CH Parameshwar and Prahlad (Co-tour leader).
The government has also ordered an inquiry to be headed by Divisional Commissioner Mandi into the incident.