A report submitted this week to the Himachal Pradesh High Court said that “gross negligence” by the operators of the 126-MW Larji hydropower plant was to blame for the death of 24 students and a tour guide earlier this month.
The report said standard procedures were ignored before water upstream from Larji was released into the Beas River, where a group of about 60 students from the V.N.R. Vignana Jyothi Institute of Engineering and Technology were examining the area as part of a field trip.
Officials from the Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board told authorities that they had sounded alarms before releasing the waters during an initial investigation, though the validity of their claim has come into question.
According to the most recent report, personnel at the plant did not communicate the plan to release the water properly and even if sounded, the alarms preceding the release might have been faulty.
Local and federal response groups have recovered 12 of the victims’ bodies. Their efforts now focus on the areas near the Thalaut and Pandoh dams.
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