Nine people, including officials of the Morbi municipality and the firm operating the bridge that collapsed on Sunday evening killing as many as 140 people, have been detained in Gujarat.
Orvera Group has been accused of allowing more people on the bridge than its handling capacity.
The officials are being questioned, as per government sources.
Harsh Sanghavi, Minister of State for Home has said that a case of culpable homicide will be registered against the contractor who renovated the bridge four days back. The bridge reopened for the public on 27 October after a gap of seven months. It is a British-era bridge and was considered an engineering marvel. The bridge was reopened but without a ‘fitness certificate’ from the local municipality.
Sanghavi has said, criminal case has been registered under section 304, 308, 114 against the collapse of Hanging Bridge at Machhu river in Morbi town.
According to media reported, while the bridge is owned by the Morbi municipality, the civic body had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Oreva Group, a private firm known for manufacturing (Ajanta) clocks. Earlier this year, the municipality handed over its operations and maintenance for 15 years to Oreva. Some media reports suggested that the company blamed over crowding in the mid-section of the bridge. A media report quoted a spokesperson as saying, “they were trying to sway it from one way to the other.”
In fact, a vide depicting the same has gone viral, however, The New Indian did a thorough fact check on it and found it not related to Sunday’s accident.
Bridge was opened without mandatory NOC from the Morbi municipality. Security audit was yet to be conducted. According to Sandeep Singh the officer in charge of Morbi municipality, they have launched a probe. The bridge was for 20 to 25 people at a time and its traffic was regulated. It remains to be seen why Oreva people sold tickets in excess to the safety norms. There were around 500 people over the bridge when the mishap happened.
The death toll due to the bridge collapse stands at 132 and several injured. According to Gujarat MoS rescue operations are still underway. “Citizens of Morbi, Fire Brigade, Coast Guard, NDRF, Garuda Commando Force, Navy, Police personnel etc. teams are doing rescue operations at the incident site. All the medical staff like doctors, nurses are working full time in the hospital,” he said.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi directed Sanghavi on engaging people in relief operations. Repoertedly, deep water is creating difficulty in carrying out relief operations. Around 177 people have been rescued, reports suggest and 19 are under treatment.
According to local MLA and state minister Brijesh Merja, at least 350 people have fallen into the river after the bridge collapsed.
“Due to the bridge collapse, several people fell into the river. A rescue operation is underway. There are reports that several people have suffered injuries. They are being rushed to hospitals,” Merja said.
PM Modi announced compensation ex-gratia of ₹2 lakh from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) for the families of each of the deceased. He also announced Rs 50,000 for the injured. Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel announced Rs 50000 for the injured and Rs 4 lakhs to the families of the deceased.