February 4, 2023 1:39 pm

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Morbi Bridge Collapse - Death Toll Rises to 141, CM, PM at the Spot even as Rescue Ops Continues

Hundred & Fifty year old Morbi Bridge was closed for over 7 months for the repairs work and was recently opened for the general public after renovation on October 26 on the occasion of the Gujarat New Year

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Morbi Bridge accident

On Sunday evening, the suspension bridge in Morbi, Gujarat, on the banks of the Machuchu River, collapsed, plunging around 400 people into the river. Most of the tourists came on the occasion of Chhath puja to the 150-year-old bridge when the collapse occurred. People fell on top of each other when cables snapped and tried hard to clutch the remains of the bridge to safety. As per the current figures, the death toll has risen to 141 (78 elderly people and 56 children). So far, 177 people have been rescued. The Morbi Bridge was closed for over 7 months for the repairs and renovation work and was just recapitulated on October 26 on the occasion of the Gujarat New Year.

Morbi Bridge Accident
Morbi Bridge Collapse: File Photo

Gujarat’s Labour & Employment Minister, Brijesh Merja, expressed deep shock over the incident. He said that renovation happened in the past, and the matter is being looked at as the government takes accountability for the tragedy. Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel immediately reached the site on Sunday evening, monitored the situation and promised a thorough investigation and all necessary actions. He also talked to the injured people admitted to the nearby hospital and expressed his sympathy.

PM Narendra Modi, who is in Kevadia, Gujarat, to celebrate Rashtriya Ekta Diwas, condoled the loss of lives due to the collapse. Modi said that he is in deep pain but also has to follow the path of duty. He informed the assembly that the proper rescue window had been opened since yesterday and that the centre was open to all possible help for Gujarat.

The BJP at the Centre has extended massive support to the relief work, said Gujarat Home Minister Harsh Sanghvi. The Centre first sent the 40 Marine commandos and seamen from the Indian Naval station in Valsad. Furthermore, five National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams have been sent along with the Indian Air Force personnel. Also, an Indian army team from an artillery brigade, including doctors and paramedical staff, has arrived for the relief ops. All the units have been working through the night to find the missing.

Morbi Bridge rescue work
(5 NDRF team, Indian Army unit carrying rescue operation at Morbi Suspension Bridge)

In its defence, Morbi Municipality has shown a copy of the agreement that entitles a private company, ‘Ajanta Oreva‘, to the maintenance and operation of the facility until 2037. What comes as a big blow is the statement of municipal body chief Sandip Singh Zala. As per Zala, the Morbi Bridge’s renovation was yet to be given a safety certificate before the recommencement. It included the 8 to 12-month period for the maintenance, but the breach of contract happened as Ajanta Oreva Company deliberately opened the bridge within 5 months.

The Gujarat government has thus announced a compensation of Rs 4 lakhs to the family members of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for the victims who succumbed to injuries. Additionally, PM Modi has announced Rs 2 lakhs financial aid to each victim’s family.

Morbi Bridge Collapse Viral Video

The incident has raised several questions since then.

  • Why was there no crowd management at the Colonial Era Bridge, and that too on Sunday?, perfectly showcasing the regulatory problems of the Morbi municipality.
  • Morbi Bridge is not an open public place and carries entry charges. So, how come tourists ( around 400) more than the capacity of the bridge (100 people) were entertained by the Ajanta Oreva Company?
  • Video surfacing on the internet shows most of the miscreants among the tourists on the bridge purposely shaking the bridge for fun, leaving the audience split as to whom to blame. Governance, surveillance, a private entity, or the public at large?
Shobhit Chandola
Shobhit Chandola
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