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The death of 30 staffers had sent shockwaves across the sprawling campus of Dr Balasaheb Sawant Konkan Krishi Vidyapeeth (KKV), Dapoli. Colleagues of the deceased and senior office-bearers from the university had reached the accident site to identify the bodies as they were being retrieved from the valley by NDRF jawans and volunteers from local trekking groups. They then made arrangements to send the bodies to the family members.
According to Ketan Chaudhari, in-charge registrar of KKV, Dapoli, all the deceased staffers belonged to the age group of 25 to 45 years, with only one staffer being over 50 years old.
“All of them worked together in the same administrative block, although in different departments, and were very well-acquainted with each other. Most of them stayed on the campus,” said Chaudhari.
KKV, Dapoli, is one of the four agricultural universities in the state. The other three are Marathwada Krishi Vidyapeeth, Parbhani, Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth, Rahuri and Punjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapeeth, Akola.
The university has a total staff strength of at least 1,150, including faculty members, non-teaching staff, administrative staff and labourers working on the university farm. Another senior official said the death of a large number of its staffers will temporarily affect the university’s administrative functioning.
“There are several dozen colleges affiliated to the university. All these staffers worked at the headquarters handling various functions of the colleges at the university. We are already under-staffed, this loss is difficult to make up not only emotionally but even administratively,” said the official.
While local administration and police officials have said that prima facie, the accident appears to have happened due to the driver not paying attention, university officials find this difficult to believe as Bhambid (32), a KKV staffer, was considered a reliable driver. “He was a very confident driver. When he used to drive the bus, we would sleep soundly in our seats,” said another university official.
After the operation to retrieve the bodies ended on Sunday, senior office bearers of the university thanked the NDRF, Sahyadri Trekkers, Mahabaleshwar Trekkers and Thane Search and Rescue Group for their contribution to the “almost impossible” task of recovering the remains in the best possible condition.