Morbi bridge collapse: In April this year, three people lost their lives in Deoghar, Jharkhand, when two cable cars collided. It was later found out that the ropeway was being operated by Damodar Infra, violating the prescribed conditions and without the consent of the Jharkhand Tourism Development Corporation (JTDC).
There was a provision that Damodar Infra had to conduct rehearsal rescue operations every three months apart from the annual, daily, and half-yearly maintenance. None of this was fulfilled by the company, whose contract and licence had expired in 2019, 2 years before the accident. The recent unfortunate incident that happened in Morbi reminds me of the Deoghar incident, as both relate the tales of lapses, negligence, and corruption.
Morbi and the 140-year-old bridge collapse
Morbi, the ceramic district of Gujarat, was formed in 2013, flanked by Kutch in the north, Surendranagar in the east, Rajkot in the south and Jamnagar in the west. The town of Morbi is situated on the Machchhu River, 35 km from the sea and 60 km from Rajkot.
The suspension Morbi bridge that collapse, Jhulo Pul, was a pedestrian suspension bridge that was inaugurated in 1879, during the reign of Sir Waghji Ravaji, the Thakur Sahib of Morbi, the man who built and planned the entire city of Morbi. The 140-year-old bridge was closed for renovation two years ago and was reopened to the public on October 26 by the Oreva group, allegedly without carrying out a safety audit first.
Morbi bridge collapses, bringing the death toll to 133
On Sunday evening, there was an unusual rush at the Machchhu river in Gujarat’s Morbi district due to Chhath Puja. As the banks got crowded, people started to gather over the bridge. Generally, people step onto the bridge from one side and get down from the other. That didn’t happen on Sunday.
Although 220 tickets were issued from the ticket counter, the lone security guard failed to stop the people from assembling on the bridge. The youngsters were also shaking the bridge, thus destabilising the construction. The iron cables on which the bridge was suspended caved in from the middle, the bridge collapsed, and people fell down into the river.
Despite the government’s prompt action and the deployment of rescue teams from the SDRF, NDRF, Indian Army, and Navy, 141 people have died as of this evening. By about 9 pm, about 60 dead bodies had been brought to the Morbi district hospital. “The number was increasing by every hour,” said Gujarat inspector general of police Ashok Yadav.
While search operations are being carried out for the missing people. The muddy water of the Machchhu river is posing a big challenge for the divers to go underwater and look for people. “The… challenge is that this is muddy water that causes visibility issues when our divers go underwater,” VVN Prasanna Kumar, NDRF commandant, told ANI.
Morbi bridge collapse: Death is the price of NEGLIGENCE
A case has been initiated under IPC sections 304 (criminal homicide due to negligence), 308 (culpable homicide, not amounting to murder) and section 114, which provides for the abettor’s presence while the crime was committed. The reason behind the action is that the Morbi Civic body has hinted at lapses. Sandeep Singh, Municipal Chief Officer, said that a fitness certificate was not issued for the bridge.
“The company started it during the holidays without giving any information about whether the renovation had been done or not, and if many people were sent together, leading to the accident. “The inquiry commission was recently conducted, so you will get more details from there,” he said.
The renovation was being done by Morbi-based Oreva Group (Ajanta Manufacturing Pvt Ltd), to whom it was handed over by the Morbi Municipality for maintenance and operations for a duration of 15 years.
Gujarat’s chief minister has formed a high-powered committee to investigate the matter, and nine people have been arrested so far, including Oreva officials, ticket sellers, and security guards. As per reports, Oreva has not only opened the bridge without a fitness certificate but has also violated multiple safety rules. The stories that we hear as lapses, corruption, and negligence have once again claimed the lives of 140 people, who had families waiting for them at home.
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