Slide into tragedy
The extremely unfortunate incident of the engineering students drowning in the waters of Beas near Thalot, a village in Himachal Pradesh, is both an unending tragedy as well as a case of inadequate management. A motley group of six girls and 18 boys from Hyderabad were on a holiday trip when the accident happened as they got down from their tourist bus to take photographs on the banks of Beas. Since the waters of Larji Hydro Power Project reservoir were released without warning, and the students were simply passing through the risky stretch, a double whammy of ignorance and callousness led to the catastrophe. Neither the students had enough time to run to safety, nor was there help present to tackle these unforeseen problems. It is therefore a lesson in what needs to be done in order to avoid such tragedies in future. Not only should there be better indicators and road signs pointing out clearly that the region could be prone to dangers, there should also be lifeguard booths at all places as well as mechanism to send out SOS in case of a life-threatening situation. No stretch of a river whose water level can rise to alarming levels at the mere push of a button and lifting of the dam should be left unmanned and unmonitored. The help of CCTV cameras, satellite images as well as wireless modes of instant communication should be used to keep a close tab on the vehicles plying on these dangerous tracts as well as warning mechanisms should be available to alert people who get off from the roads to the river banks. In addition, rescue teams must be better trained to handle emergency situations with a greater alacrity than they are used to at present. Since the tragedy occurred in a matter of minutes, in this case, response time didn’t matter, even though had the help arrived within 10 or 20 minutes, more lives could have been saved.