TW Newsdesk, November: The Morbi Bridge, a 137-year-old suspended bridge in Gujarat, has been a popular favourite tourist stop for years. The bridge was reportedly built on the lines of the Ram and Lakshman Jhulas on the Ganga in Uttarakhand by Morbi’s former ruler Sir Waghji Thakor, according to local narratives. Sir Waghji, it is said, was inspired by the Britishers and built the bridge to reflect “the progressive and scientific nature of the rulers of Morbi”.
The latest technology available in Europe at those days was used for the construction of the historic bridge. The material for the construction of the bridge also came from England and cost around Rs 3.5 lakh at the time, reported the district website.
The Morbi Bridge connected the Darbargadh Palace with the Nazarbag Palace, which were the residences of the then-royal families. The bridge has been reported to be 1.25 m wide and spans 233 m on the Machchhu River.
30th October, 2022, will forever go down in history as one of the worst tragedies ever faced by India when the Morbi Bridge, which had just been opened after renovations on the 27th of October, collapsed under the pressure of around 400 people resulting in the death of 135 people, leaving countless others injured and alone and traumatised.
Amid reports that some people were kicking the overburdened bridge or trying to make it sway, crucial information has surfaced revealing considerable accusations against the company responsible for the renovations, the Oreva Group.
Interestingly, when asked about the status of the renovation prior to the disaster, the owner of Oreva could be heard saying “Nothing will happen to the bridge for the next 8-10 years. And if it’s used responsibly, the bridge will need no repairs for 15 years,” reported sources.
Following reasonable suspicions, the police have arrested nine people associated with Oreva – including two managers and two ticket clerks on its payroll, as well as two contractors and three security guards it had hired, after the disastrous accident. They are currently being investigated for culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
At a press conference on Wednesday, November 2, public prosecutor HS Panchal stated that the two contractors whom Oreva had assigned the fabrication work were “unqualified” for the task. He further said, “Despite this, these contractors were given repair work of the bridge in 2007 and in 2022.”
Moreover, a forensic report presented by the investigating officer in court revealed that the flooring of the bridge was replaced at the time of renovation but its cables were not and that the old cables could not take the weight of the changed flooring.
A police officer also revealed to the court sufficient proof that the cable was “rusted” – and that the tragedy could have been avoided had they been repaired on time.
After such a globally recognised tragedy, questions are now being asked about why a company known for making clocks was handed the contract to repair a bridge.