Himachal Pradesh government on Friday decided to dry-up Beas river for an hour downstream Larji barrage after a UAV and multibeam echo-sounders beside highly skilled Navy divers deployed at the site of mishap failed to locate the bodies of missing engineering students from Hyderabad.
The exercise will start at 7 am Saturday when water will be stopped at Larji project to ensure that the river dries up for a while, said Anil Sharma, state Minister of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, adding the decision was taken after consultations with all agencies involved in the search.
So far, only eight bodies, three of girl students, have been recovered. Twenty five people, including 24 engineering students from V N R Vignana Jyothi Institute of Engineering and Technology, were washed away on Sunday evening in a flash flood caused by the sudden opening of the flood gates at the Larji hydel project dam in Mandi district.
Search for 17 others, including tour operator Parahlad, was still underway without any success. No body was recovered Friday despite NDRF deploying an unmanned aerial vehicle and multibeam echo-sounders. Eight Navy divers, who reached Mandi Thursday, have also joined the manpower.
More than 600 jawans, most of them already at the spot, will undertake a manual combing of the river once the water discharge is plugged at dams of two upstream projects — Parbati (III) and Larji.
“We are in close contact with Telangana government and Andhra Pradesh authorities, beside families of the victims. We know the families are getting worried,” Sharma said.
Telangana Home Minister N Narsimha Reddy said a group of MPs led by Jatender Reddy met Union Home minister Rajnath Singh and raised a fresh demand for sending advanced equipment and using additional manpower to locate bodies . “The river is filled with silt, the flow is fast and there are big boulders,” Reddy admitted, but stressed for stopping the river water to facilitate the search.
Parents refuse food: ‘We are not on picnic’
Shimla: Over two dozen parents and family members of missing engineering students from Hyderabad refused food as their anger boiled-up after no body was recovered on Friday. “We are not here for a picnic in Himachal Pradesh. If we do not get the bodies, what is the purpose of our endless wait?,” said Satya Narain, a relative of missing student Kiran Kumar. B V Subarao, a relative of another missing student, said, “We are not feeling comfortable, but we are also not angry with the administration. They may be doing their best, but the purpose of our being here is to get the bodies. Parents are losing patience. We want NDRF to deploy latest techniques and gadgets to step-up search.”
The families, however, claimed that they decided refuse food to observe a day-long fast for those who died in the mishap. “One can say it’s protest, but it’s also a silent prayer for the departed souls,” said the mother of a missing student. Many have serious complaints against the college management as they did not engage a local guide who could have advised them where to stop or whether it was safe to get down to the river. (ENS)