The State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has taken note of a petition accusing authorities of the Pasuvullanka high school in Andhra Pradesh of negligence which allegedly resulted in the death of of six minor students in the boat accident on the Godavari river this week.
The accident occurred near Pasuvullanka in I. Polavaram Mandal (block) in East Godavari district on Saturday. The boat, with around 30 to 40 people on board, capsized after hitting a pillar of an under-construction bridge.
Balala Hakkula Sangham (BHS), an NGO that works on child rights, had written to the SHRC demanding action against the school authorities.
BHS alleged that the tragedy would have been averted, if the school had not taken the students to participate in a government initiative on a holiday, while it was raining heavily and without any safety measures.
BHS demanded that the school officials should be held accountable for taking the students on an unsafe boat and said that the institute must provide compensation for the victimâ€™s families and give counselling to the survivors.
According to reports, the boat was carrying passengers beyond its capacity. It reportedly had a carrying capacity of 10-15 people but over 30 were on board.
The boat had adults and children on board. The children were heading back from their school after attending Vanam manam programme, organised by the state government.
The Pasuvullanka ZP high school to which the children were heading to, serves as many as 153 children from nearby hamlets and have a teaching staff strength of just eight.
According to a report by the New Indian Express, the school authorities had taken the students to Vanam Manam programme on the ill-fated day, despite it being second Saturdayâ€”a holiday.
The school headmaster N Satyanarayana said that the programme was held after instructions from the state government officials.
The SHRC has issued a notice to the Chief Secretary of Andhra Pradesh, asking for a detailed response by September 24, 2018.
The NDRF, SDRF and the Navy were deployed for the search operation along with three helicopters and four drones. So far, 22 teams were involved with the search operations for the missing students. While two bodies were found, at least five persons were missing.
Speaking to TNM earlier, Vishal Gummi, Superintendent of Police, East Godavari said that the heavy rains were hampering the rescue operations.