India

On November 14, the Supreme Court will hear a petition seeking a judicial investigation into the collapse of the Morbi bridge

The Supreme Court on Tuesday scheduled for November 14 a hearing on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) requesting a judicial inquiry into the collapse of the suspension bridge over the Machchhu river in Morbi, Gujarat, on October 30. Over 130 people were killed as a result of the tragedy.

Vishal Tiwari presented his petition for urgent hearing before a bench by Chief Justice UU Lalit.

According to the petitioner, a retired judge was requested to investigate the case in answer to a question from the bench. According to him, there are similar old bridges and monuments throughout the country, and he requested the state governments form committees to conduct a survey and risk assessment of these structures.

A construction incident investigation department should be established in every State with the responsibility of assessing the quality of public construction and conducting investigations as soon as they occur.

According to the complaint, the bridge was opened on October 26 after being repaired and maintained by a private company, Oreva Group, without obtaining a fitness certificate. It should be noted that at the time of the collapse, more than 500 people were on the bridge, which is more than the permitted number.
Additionally, the state was accused of supervisory negligence in the plea.

The maintenance and repair work was delegated to a private operator, Oreva Group, which had failed in its maintenance and repair responsibilities. At the same time, the state government could not supervise and administer the risk and suitability of the British-era bridge. In the plea, the state government was found to have failed in its responsibility to oversee the proper functioning of the bridge and its timely maintenance.”

Furthermore, the plea stated that similar “avoidable” accidents had occurred in several places across India in the last decade due to maintenance negligence.

So far, nine individuals have been arrested on charges of culpable homicide (not amounting to murder). Oreva Group (Ajanta Manufacturing Pvt Ltd) is the company awarded the contract by the municipality to maintain the bridge and is comprised of two managers, two ticketing clerks, two contractors engaged by the company to repair the bridge, and three security guards assigned to control foot traffic.

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