The Himachal Pradesh high court ordered a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to the parents of 24 Hyderabad engineering college students who were washed away in BeasRiver at Thalot in Mandi district on June 8.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir and Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan directed that the Larji Project authorities and management of VNRVignanaJyothiCollege would bear the cost of compensation in 50:50 ratio (Rs 2.5 lakh each for each student).
The court ordered that the officials on duty at the Larji project dam on June 8 be arrayed as respondents and impleaded Himachal State Load Discharge Centre and Northern Region Load Discharge Centre as party.
The bench further said that "till the investigation is taken to its logical end by the investigating officer and the petition is disposed off, we deem it proper to exercise inherent powers to grant interim relief to the unfortunate parents, who are hapless, helpless, broken and shaken".
"We are conscious that money is not a substitute, but may be just to ameliorate their pains and sufferings," it said. The court also said that the "respondents managing director, superintendent engineer and resident engineer of the project and officials/officers of the college have performed their duties negligently and because of their utter carelessness, callousness and negligence, 24 budding engineers have lost their lives".
The court fixed the next hearing for July 9 and directed the respondents to file reply/rejoinder before the next hearing. Twenty four students of VNR Vignana Jyothi Institute of Engineering and Technology, Hyderabad, and a tour operator were washed away in Beas river near Thalot on June 8 after discharge of water from Larji Hydel Power Project.
The high court had taken suo motu cognisance of the tragedy and asked the government to submit a status report.