Morbi bridge collapse: HC raps Gujarat government over compensation awarded to victims’ kin

The Gujarat High Court on Thursday came down heavily on the government over the compensation given to the victims of the Morbi bridge collapse that killed 135 people.

The Supreme Court considered that compensation to the relatives of the deceased is lower. The HC said that “compensation should be realistic and also the need of the hour is to pay appropriate compensation”.

Compensation paid to the fatally injured is also low, the court observed and directed the state to file a detailed statement and come up with a policy on compensation.

The court also ordered the government to conduct a survey of all bridges in the state. It asked the government to ensure that bridges are in good condition. The court said it wanted a list of all the bridges in the state and their condition and that there should be a certified report to be submitted to it.

Rusty cables, broken anchor pins and loose bolts were among the faults left unaddressed during the renovation of the Morbi suspension bridge that collapsed last month into the Machchhu River, killing 135 people, according to a preliminary investigation by the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL). The FSL report also noted that the new metal floor increased the weight of the bridge. According to the prosecution, both repair contractors were not qualified to carry out such repairs and improvements.

Police have so far arrested nine people, including four from the Oreva group that operated the suspension bridge from Britain, which collapsed on October 30.

Orvea Group had hired Dhrangadhra-based Dev Prakash Solution to renovate the bridge, which collapsed four days after it was opened to the public after renovations.

According to the initial information report, at least 250 to 300 people were present on the bridge when it collapsed after one of the cables broke.

The report also revealed that Oreva Group did not hire any expert agency to assess the bridge’s load-bearing capacity before opening it to the public.

“The group had sold 3,165 tickets on October 30 alone and there was no coordination between the ticket booking offices on either side of the bridge,” said Vijay Jani, spokesperson for the district administration.

He said the arrested booking clerks should have stopped selling tickets after the mass but they continued to sell tickets and allowed more people to board the bridge.

The defense informed the court that three security guards were on duty on the day of the accident, two on either side of the bridge and one in the middle of the structure. While two of the three guards are being held, the third fell into the river but survived.

With input from institutions

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