The Morbi bridge collapse in Gujarat was branded an “enormous tragedy” by the Supreme Court on Monday. The catastrophe, which turned out to be one of the biggest disasters in the country recently, killed 141 people. It included more than 40 children.
The Supreme Court has also asked the Gujarat High Court to hear the case on an ongoing basis. This is to ensure that all issues of a proper investigation, accountability and adequate compensation for victims are addressed.
The top court has also ordered the petitioners, who brought up the issue, to approach the high court. This is because the case was already commenced thereafter the HC took notice of the accident. The suspension bridge, which spanned the Machchu River, collapsed on October 30, just days after it reopened after undergoing renovations.
Last week, the Gujarat High Court questioned the Morbi civic body if the deal, which would allow a private company to maintain and run the British-era suspension bridge, had been approved by the authority and if it had granted the firm permission to open the bridge to the public.
The bridge’s upkeep was assigned to the Oreva Group, well-known as the builders of the Ajanta clock. We hereby ask the Morbi Nagarpalika (municipality) to place on record a copy of the consent issued by its general board, if any, approving the agreement dated March 8, 2022,” the bench stated, according to reports.
During the course of the case, the civic body stated in an affidavit that on December 29, 2021, Ajanta alerted the then-chief officer of Morbi Nagarpalika that the bridge’s condition was severe. It had also asked the civic council to make a judgment on the draught agreement for the bridge’s maintenance and management, which it had submitted for approval.
Even after a communication dated December 29, 2021, informing thereunder that the subject bridge is important, it appears to have been allowed to be utilized or authorized by the public at large to use the said bridge until March 7, 2022, the court responded.
The century-old suspension footbridge over the Machchu river near Morbi, 300 kilometers from the state capital Gandhinagar. It collapsed around 6:30 p.m. on October 30 due to overcrowding. After substantial repairs and renovations, the bridge was reopened.
The Public Interest Litigation filed by attorney Vishal Tiwari seeks the formation of a judicial commission chaired by a retired Supreme Court judge to conduct an investigation into the incident.
The petition also asks the states to organize a commission. This will evaluate and assess the risk of ancient and dangerous monuments and bridges. This will ensure their environmental viability and safety. It has also asked the states to establish a construction incident investigation department. So that investigations may be conducted quickly and efficiently whenever such occurrences occur.
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