Twenty four innocent lives were washed away in Beas River yesterday evening at Thalot in Mandi district, where slow movement and ill equipped rescue team have exposed state’s lack of preparedness to the natural or man-made disaster.
Being a hilly state, Himachal Pradesh is considered disaster prone and many times in the past devastation along Satluj River has proved that, but lack of contingency plan, which was also exposed at Thalot, posing blatant threat and raising doubts over the preparedness of state for any disaster.
Though, it was a very busy day at Thalot, where many VVIP visited the spot and take a stock of the situation. Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, Transport Minister GS Bali, BJP leaders including Jai Ram Thakur were among others who reached the spot.
Union Minister has assured all possible assistance to the state from the centre in the rescue operation. Chief Minister, who reached at the spot in the morning, directed the district administration to undertake rescue operations on war footing and ordered a high level inquiry to be conducted by Divisional Commissioner, Mandi to inquire into the mishap.
Many state leaders have expressed their grief over the mishap though their press statement. The list includes Himachal Pradesh Governor Urmila Singh, BJP and Congress president and other leaders and CPM state unit.
BJP, in its statement, termed it complete failure of the state government and disaster management. BJP state spokesperson advised government to take strong action to stop tourists from going near to river and install warning plaques on the roadside. The Party state unit has sought through inquiry into it and demanded strong action against guilty.
Other political party, CPM has senses some conspiracy between private and government run hydropower projects over power supply. In a press communiqué of CPM leader Tikender Singh Panwar, on the behalf of the party, stated
the government should hold a thorough inquiry either by the central Northern Grid or such other agency as to why the water was allowed to spill over as it is not a normal case of water flooding but has to do with the economics of power generation to which the SLDC became a party and connived with the private players in hydro power generation. The CPIM has learnt that yesterday when this incident occurred there was surplus power thrown in the northern gird by various power producers including the public sector and the Independent power producers (IPPs). Had the frequency level reached 51- to 52 there was a chance of failure of the northern grid and to avoid that the power generation had to be lowered . It could have happened by asking the private players like Baspa, Malana and AD to ask to shut one unit each so that there is less supply of energy in the evening. However, there have been charges made against the SLDC even in the past that they are hand in glove with the private producers. And with respect to the present incident to not fetch a loss to the private producers by asking them to shut some of their units, instead asked the public sector unit i.e. Largi to completely shut down production for few hours . It was this reason that the Dam that is with run of the river Dam technology which does not have a capacity to store enough water was full and the water spilled over. This chapter of the incident also needs to be thoroughly investigated”
Party also asked for adequate compensation to the family members of the deceased.