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Narmada disaster toll 54

By Our Staff Correspondent

BHOPAL, APRIL 11. The recovery of more bodies has raised the death toll to 54 in the April 7 drowning tragedy at Dharaji village in Dewas district of Madhya Pradesh. The Chief Minister, Babulal Gaur, today announced an ex-gratia relief of Rs. 1 lakh each to the families of those killed in the tragedy. The official death toll was 37 till Sunday evening.

According to an official version, at least 30 persons were still missing on the basis of reports filed by their families. The total number of those missing is likely to be on the higher side as many pilgrims, some of them sadhus, could have been swept away without any trace of their identity. Some bodies claimed by relatives have been cremated on the banks of the Narmada at Dharaji. The Chief Minister reached Dharaji today and met the affected families after inspecting the scene of incident site.

The Chief Minister had earlier announced the setting up of a single-member inquiry committee to probe the causes leading to the Daraji incident. The Committee has been asked to submit its report in 15 days.

The State BJP President, Kailash Joshi, told The Hindu after returning from the site of the tragic incident that it was common knowledge that the Indira Sagar dam was releasing water in the evening to generate electricity during the peak hour. It is unfortunate that some pilgrims, who were not aware of this, started performing pooja in the shallow waters right in the middle of the river when suddenly the water level went up and the pilgrims were swept away.

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