With first of its kind, the rescue teams would launch a special search operation to trace the bodies of the engineering students by lowering the water level in the Beas River to the minimum possible level.
At least 25 persons, including 24 students of Hyderabad-based VNR Vignana Jyouthi institute of Engineering and Technology were washed away in the Beas River near Thalout in Mandi district on Sunday evening.
In the biggest ever rescue and search operations in Himachal Pradesh which has entered in its fifth day on Friday, so far the rescue teams comprising over 600 personnel of national disaster response force (NDRF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and state police are able to recover only five bodies.
Informing about the strategy formulated, deputy commissioner Mandi Devesh Chauhan told that speical search operations would be launched by trying to dry up a 3-km stretch of the Beas River downstream of the incident spot on Saturday morning.
“Operation in the Parbati- III power project will be suspended for three to four hours on Saturday morning. The water flow from Parbati which is situated upstream Larji Dam will be stopped completely,” told Kumar.
Given the reduced water flow from Parbati, the Larji water would be diverted through tail-race tunnel that is situated 3 kilometres downstream of the incident spot. “We will actually try to dry up of 3-kilometre stretch of the river from the spot of incident to Doada,” said Kumar.
This is the stretch where maximum of the recovered bodies were found. “We will get a window of at least 24 minutes to one hour in which at least 450 personnel of different agencies will comb the dried up strech,” said Kumar.
The rescue teams are hoping to recover maximum bodies in the special search operation. The combing operation in the dry riverbed will tentatively be carried out from 7 am to 8 am.
He said that they were communicating with the Parbati authorities and the exact timings of the operation will be finalized in the evening.
“This will be done with coordination between Parbati and Larji projects. We will identify the spots where bodies could be recovered. In this stretch there are some deep pools. Expert divers from the navy and the NDRF will scour these pools to trace bodies,” said Kumar.
He said efforts would be made to utilise the maximum potential of the rescue teams in the one hour operation and recover as many bodies as possible.
After that, the remaining stretch of 12- km from Doada to Pandoh Dam will be focused, he said.