Gujarat High Court Issues Notice To State Government On Bridge Tragedy

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The Gujarat High Court on Monday took suo motu cognisance of the Morbi bridge collapse tragedy and issued notices to the state government and local authorities and also sought a status report in the matter by November 14.
The British-era suspension bridge on the Machchhu river in Morbi collapsed on October 30, claiming 135 lives.

The bridge was thrown open for the public on October 26 after seven months of repair work by a private firm.

“We have taken a suo motu (on their own) cognisance of the Morbi incident. But for the vacation, we would have sat on the same day itself,” a division bench of Chief Justice Aravind Kumar and Justice Ashutosh Shastri said addressing Advocate General Kamal Trivedi who was present in the court.

The bench took cognisance of the incident on the basis of a newspaper report.

It issued notices to the state government through the chief secretary, state home department, commissioner of municipalities, Morbi municipality, district collector and the State Human Rights Commission and relisted the matter on November 14.

The court said it wants to see some action being taken by the government and directed the chief secretary and the home secretary to file a status report by next Monday, when the matter will come up for hearing.

The State Human Rights Commission has also been directed to file a report in the matter by November 14.

“We will implead the state, the home department, the chief secretary, Morbi municipality, urban development authority, commissioner of municipalities. Also, we would like to have the State Human Rights Commission,” the HC said.

“The State Human Rights Commission shall also file a report in this regard by the next date of hearing. The registry is directed to communicate this order through special messenger to respondent number 5– State Human Rights Commission. Relist the matter on November 14,” it said.

Morbi-based clock and e-bike maker Oreva Group was given the contract by the city municipality to repair and operate the ill-fated bridge for 15 years and charge tickets in the range of ₹ 10 to ₹ 15 for its use, according to the municipality documents.

The Oreva Group on October 26 claimed that it had roped-in experts for the repair work and the material used was built as per specifications by “specialised firms”.

Police had arrested nine persons, including four from the Oreva group, and filed a case against firms tasked with the maintenance and operation of the century-old bridge.

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