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Holiday horror in Mandi
Water was released on verbal orders: Report
Pratibha Chauhan
Tribune News Service

Shimla, June 12
The preliminary inquiry conducted by the Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board (HPSEB) has revealed that water was released from the Larji dam following verbal directions from the State Load Dispatch Centre (SLDC).

Twenty-four engineering students from Hyderabad were washed away in the Beas after water was released by the dam authorities. In the report submitted to Principal Secretary (Power) Sushil Negi, Chief Managing Director, Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board (HPSEB), Pratap Negi has indicated that water was released in four instalments on the verbal direction from the SLDC. The generation of the Larji project was scaled down to 32 MW from its capacity of 126 MW, resulting in the release of water.

“The water was released to reduce generation so as to save the barrage and also to reduce electricity load on the grid to prevent its collapse,” said Sushil Negi. He said reducing generation was a routine affair resulting in on and off release of water from the dam.

“The sudden increase in water level in the Beas could also have been due to the release of water by the Parbati-III project authorities,” said an official of the state power board.

The preliminary report also indicates that the generation was scaled down at five HPSEB projects — Baspa, Bhava, Giri, Larji and Bassi — while none of the other independent power producers were asked to do the same.

The official said 50 cusecs of water was released at 5.50 pm. 150 at 6.15 pm, 250 at 6.30 pm and finally 450 cusecs at 6.45 pm. The possibility of 450 cusecs of water being released by the Larji project authorities after the children were swept way cannot be ruled out. The last video of the 24 students was shot at 6.35. “The time recorded in the video camera is 6.35 pm when the students were still huddled on the rock, but suddenly the water level rose and the students were swept away,” said Bihari Lal, an employee of Chaman Studio, who was in the village to shoot a wedding function.

The point at Thalot where the mishap occurred is 2.5 km from the Larji barrage located at a height of 969.5 metres above sea level and the release of 450 cusecs of water at 6.45 pm worsened the already alarming situation. Had an alert been raised immediately and the dam authorities intimated about the mishap, the release of 450 cusecs at 6.45 pm could have been stopped.





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