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HindustanTimes Wed,17 Sep 2014

Larji dam flood gates were opened on verbal orders

Gaurav Bisht, Hindustan Times  Shimla, June 13, 2014
First Published: 11:00 IST(13/6/2014) | Last Updated: 11:05 IST(13/6/2014)

The Beas river tragedy, wherein 24 students of VNR Vignana Jyothi engineering College of Hyderabad were washed away in the river waters, is certainly a blot on the face of Himachal Pradesh government. Four days after the tragedy that shook the nation, skeletons have begun to fall out of the closet of the Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board Limited (HPSEBL) that operates 126 megawatt Larji project.

Not only were the flood gates of the dam opened without proper warning but it was done just on the basis of verbal orders.

“It’s confirmed that water from the dam was released on the verbal instructions,” principal secretary multi-power projects SKBS Negi told Hindustan Times.

The electricity board had ordered an internal probe to ascertain the cause behind the tragedy that took lives of 24 engineering students. “As per preliminary information, water was released on verbal orders. We are seeing whether the laid down norms were followed or not”, said Negi adding that the detailed report will reveal what went wrong and who were the culprits.

“There could have been an error of judgment in release of water,” said Negi while adding that the dam had been brimming due to rapid snow melting in the catchment area of Larji river.

Inquiries reveal that water was released from the reservoir of the Parbati project, which also increased the water level in Larji dam. The flood gates of the dam were lifted at 5.50 pm on June 8 and 50 cubic meters (cumecs) of water was released. Later, 150 cumecs of water was released at 6.15 pm and another 250 cumecs was released at about 6.30 pm.

Curiously, even after the incident, more water -- measuring about 450 cumecs -- was released from the Larji dam at 6.45 pm.

“The decision to stop the power generation is totally frequency based. When there is overloading in the grid, we have to reduce the production,” said HPSEBL managing director Pratap Chand Negi, who is also inquiring into the water release from the Larji dam.

On june 8, five hydel power projects were shut down, including 126 MW Larji project, 66 MW Bassi project, 120 MW Bhawa project, 60 MW Giri project and 300 MW Baspa project.

“These projects were under control of the Himachal Pradesh State Load Dispatch Centre (HPSLDC) while other projects are under the Northern Regional Load Dispatch System (NRLDC),” he added.

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