Shimla : Facing universal censure after the sudden release of water from a dam resulting in the death of 24 students of an engineering college and a tour operator from Hyderabad, the Himachal Pradesh government seems to be headed for further trouble.

A government report on the incident, submitted to the high court, has pointed out that gross negligence flowed from the state-run 126 MW Larji hydropower project.

While the Larji project had been asked to reduce generation on the day of the tragedy, plant officials shut it down. As a result of this, the water that had built up in its reservoir had to be released, leading to the sudden surge in the Beas River.

 The project authorities, says the report, abruptly discharged 450 cusecs into the Beas river on June 8. The students, who were on a holiday trip to Manali and standing on the boulders in the river bed for a picture-postcard shoot, were caught unawares when strong rapid current carried them away.  Official sources told IANS that the high court, which directed the state to file a status report in the court by June 24 about the steps it initiated after the completion of the probe, might expand the scope of the probe as the standard operating procedure for release of water from the dam is also not being adequately followed by most of the hydro projects in the state.

  Himachal Pradesh, one of the country’s largest hydropower producers, has more than 150 micro and mega run-of-the-river projects in private and public sectors.

An equal number of such projects are in various stages of construction. These are located mainly on the Satluj, Beas, Ravi, Yamuna and Chenab rivers and their tributaries.

Vishal Gulati

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