I cannot come to assimilate my thoughts over the horrific and disturbing incident that claimed 134 lives, out of which reportedly, 49 were children.
I have often stated that a death of a person of importance is tragic but the death of common children, women, and men are mere statistics.
The brutal truth is that the Morbi bridge incident is not about accidental deaths but murders of innocent people.
The footage shared by many TV channels from just before the collapse showed a group of people taking photos while others tried to sway the bridge before they tumbled into the river as the metal cables gave way.
Gujarat’s forensics laboratory in their investigations found that the bridge collapsed under the weight of the huge rush of people. The forensics team pulled out metal samples of the bridge with heavy cutting tools for analysis according to informed sources. Reportedly, the swelling crowds put stress on the structural integrity of the bridge, leading to the tragedy.
Over 400 people were on the bridge but the bridge could take the weight of only about 125 people, according to officials.
It was heart-wrenching to see people falling on top of each other after the bridge snapped. Videos that became viral showed many desperately clinging to the remains of the bridge while some were seen swimming to safety.
It is sad to learn that many people who were nearer to both ends of the bridge died as there is no water below, only hard ground. Those who were in the middle of the bridge fell into the river and drowned.
The 143-year-old bridge had a capacity of just 125 people but tickets were being sold until the bridge collapsed with nearly reportedly over 400 people on it. The ticket for children was priced at Rs 12 and for adults, it was Rs 17. It is simply unfathomable that such a callous attitude was adopted as a safety measure by those in charge of the administration of the bridge.
The renovation of the Mobri bridge was done by Oreva. Shockingly though, Oreva is not a company in the construction or renovation business of infrastructure. Oreva is a Gujarat-based watchmaker. Reportedly, the Morbi City Municipal body allotted the contract to Oreva without going through a tendering process. The bridge was renovated at a cost of Rs 2 crore.
After bagging the contract for the renovation of the bridge, Oreva outsourced the technical aspect of the renovation to a smaller construction company named Devprakash Solutions. Clearly indicating that Oreva did not have the technical competence to undertake the renovation of the bridge
It is more disturbing to note, Oreva did not inform the authorities about reopening the bridge and the company had not been issued a fitness certificate to do so. This was revealed by the municipal body’s Chief Sandeep Singh Zala during an interaction with the media.
Gujarat Home Minister Harsh Sanghavi told media that a criminal case has been registered and a five-member high-powered committee is probing the bridge collapse. ‘A case has been registered under charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder and intentional act causing death against whoever is found responsible,” he said.
While investigations into the tragedy will continue and blame game will ensue. The truth is that innocent lives were lost because instead of renovating a safe bridge, it appears to be an act of building a bridge of corruption.
The genesis of the problem that led to this tragic incident is the decision of the Morbi Municipal body to handover renovation works of the 143-year-old bridge to Oreva – a watching making company, whose sheer lack of technical core competency in this specific field has got people all over the world to watch this horrific tragedy.
To stem the rot of corruption in this case and to give justice to the families of those innocent people who have lost their lives, this nation needs accountability from all those linked to the tragedy. It is important for the government to find those accountable and throw them in jail for murder.