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HindustanTimes Tue,29 Jul 2014

Tour endorsed by parents, Hyderabad institute tells court

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Shimla, June 24, 2014
First Published: 23:33 IST(24/6/2014) | Last Updated: 23:38 IST(24/6/2014)

The Hyderabad engineering institute on Tuesday informed the Himachal Pradesh high court that the parents of the students who had been victims of the Mandi tragedy had endorsed the educational tour.

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After the state government filed its status report on the tragedy, the high court posted the hearing of the case for Wednesday.

A division bench comprising chief justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir and justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan passed the orders on a suo motu notice taken up by the court based on the news reports on the incident, in which 24 B Tech students of Hyderabad-based VNR Vignan Jyothi Institute of Engineering and Technology and a tour operator were washed away in the Beas at Thalout near Mandi on June 8.

The chief secretary informed the court that the power department had been asked to get an inquiry conducted to look into the issue of working of the State Load Dispatch Centre and North Region Load Dispatch Centre.

The inquiry, to be conducted by an officer not below the rank of chief engineer, will ascertain as to why only the state-run power projects were asked to reduce generation while other power projects continued to run on full or in some cases more than the capacity.

The government has also asked the departments concerned to take steps to implement the recommendations contained in the inquiry report of the Mandi divisional commissioner.

The chief secretary informed the court that 17 bodies of missing students had been recovered by June 22 and the search operation would continue till the remaining bodies were recovered.

The Hyderabad institute management submitted before the court that students were offered an educational/industrial tour to different parts of country during the second year of the programme.
The college authorities had put a circular regarding the tour on April 5. Initially, 55 of the 143 students had opted for the tour but only 48 joined.

"Prior to the visit, an undertaking was taken from the students, which was also to be endorsed by one of the parents/guardian and guidelines were issued to be followed during the tour," said the college authorities, in the reply, further submitting that the students had requested the driver to stop the bus to attend to nature's call.

"The area was quite large, akin to a small ground and on the bank of the river. At that time, the water level in the river was very low. There were no barricades, signboards or any other warning signs that could have warned the students of the impending danger of release of water from the dam and against venturing close to the river," submitted the college authorities. 

It said the students ventured into the river to take photographs as the water level was very low, which could not be called a threat to anyone's life. As the water level started rising, the students were warned to come out; however, the students' natural reaction was to get on top of the rocks as the water level rose. Within no time, there was a flash flood and students got no chance to get out of the river as it happened in a fraction of time, it was said.

The college management also placed on record the photographs showing paths having access from the main road to the area in question and even a lamppost lighting the specific area during night hours.

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