- CFTRI Scientist washed away at Chunchanakatte Falls
- Body fished out this morning
- Wife, 5-year-old daughter rescued by localites
- Body kept for public viewing at CFTRI Quarters
Chunchanakatte (K.R. Nagar Taluk): The Sunday getaway to the Chunchanakatte Falls turned tragic to the family of a Scientist at Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI) in Mysuru when he was washed away in the strong current at the Falls yesterday afternoon.
The deceased Scientist has been identified as Dr. Somashekar (40), who was working as DBT Ramalingaswamy Fellow at the Department of Biochemistry in CFTRI.
He had been on a picnic to Chunchanakatte Falls along with his wife Prathima Tripati, 5-year-old daughter Ishani, his friend Vinay, an employee of JK Tyres and his (Vinay) daughter.
While Dr. Somashekar hailed from Bengaluru, his wife Prathima is a native of Lucknow. Incidentally, he had celebrated his birthday just two days ago.
Dr. Somashekar, the eldest among four sons of Siddaramu and Jayamma couple, residents of Chikkamaranahalli, Nelamangala in Bengaluru, also leaves behind three sisters.
About the incident: Yesterday afternoon, Dr. Somashekar, his wife and daughter along with his friend and his (Vinay) daughter, after reaching Chunchanakatte Falls, ventured into the waters to play. After a few minutes, the water level rose resulting in increase in water force which led to Dr. Somashekar getting washed away.
Why the water-level rose: Sources said that the water level increased due to surge in water flow as the Kolkata-based Graphite India Ltd. Mini Hydel Plant of 18 MW (9 MW x 2) capacity at Chunchanakatte discharged water from the plant in the upper stream, which took the picnickers off guard. It was also raining heavily yesterday since 2.30 pm, sources added.
As the water level increased, there was strong current too. Dr. Somashekar and his family members, who were sitting on the rocks in the middle, began to move towards the banks and were finding it difficult and shouted for help. Some localites, who were present there, gave them a saree to hold on and told them to reach the banks safely. As Dr. Somashekar’s wife and daughter managed to reach the banks, Somashekar, who lost the grip of the saree, slipped and was washed away.
Not aware of the siren: Though the staff of the Hydel Plant switched on the siren to alert people downstream that water is being released, it was known only to the people living in the surroundings but tourists, who visit Chunchanakatte are unaware of the siren and usually mistook it to be that of a factory.
Though there is a warning board telling about the siren, most of the tourists do not bother to look at the sign board, a villager said and added that the sound of the siren is muffled with the sound of water and cannot be heard properly. Meanwhile, Vinay said that they did not hear the sound of the siren and added that he was shocked by the incident.
No adequate Police staff in the outpost: Sources said that there is no adequate staff in the Police Outpost in Chunchanakatte and there are no security personnel deployed near the Falls to warn tourists about the siren.
Sources also said that there are only two Police personnel deployed at the outpost and if one of them takes leave, the outpost is left with only one staff.
Need for safety measure: With no safety or any precautionary measures in place, there has been increase in the number of deaths at the Falls frequented by tourists in the weekends. Despite the deaths, the District Administration or the Tourism Department have not bothered to take any precautionary measures, alleged the villagers.
About three months ago, two tourists had met their watery graves in the Falls and now, a Scientist has lost his life, the villagers said and urged the authorities concerned to avert such incidents in future.
Body fished out today morning: As the operation to fish out the body was stalled in the evening due to bad light, the Police along with Fire and Emergency Services personnel continued the operation early this morning. The body was retrieved at about 7.30 am and shifted to K.R. Nagar General Hospital for post-mortem. K.R. Nagar Police have registered a case in this regard.
Body brought to Mysuru: After the post-mortem, the body of Dr. Somashekar was handed over to his parents and relatives. The body was brought to CFTRI Quarters at M.G. Halli, opposite to Chandrakala Hospital on Kalidasa Road at about 12.45 pm. His wife and daughter had reached Mysuru yesterday night itself.
Arrangements were made by the CFTRI staff to keep his body in front of his Quarters at No. 51, Block No. 8, for people to pay their last respects. CFTRI Chief Scientist Dr. R. Subramanian, HoD of Biochemistry Bhaskaran, senior scientists Dr. Balaji Prakash, Dr. Manilal and others paid their last respects.
The body of Dr. Somashekar was taken to Bengaluru at about 3 pm where the last rites would be performed today evening, according to family sources.