Gujarat Bridge reopened earlier than expected. 141 Dead
Documents show that the private corporation entrusted with maintaining the bridge had already opened it to the public before it collapsed yesterday in Morbi, Gujarat, killing more than 140 people.
According to the contract between the Morbi municipal authority and Ajanta Manufacturing Private Limited, which NDTV was able to access, the bridge had to be closed for maintenance and repairs for at least eight to twelve months.
But on October 26, the day of the Gujarati New Year, the old colonial bridge was officially opened to the public after only seven months. According to Sandipsinh Zala, the head of the Morbi municipal agency, the company did not request a fitness certificate from the local government, which Zala verified to NDTV on Sunday.
The Oreva Group, which includes the clockmaker Ajanta, offered bridge tickets for 17 each.
All safety regulations were broken, aside from the early reopening.
When the cables on the “hanging bridge” broke on Sunday night, there were about 500 people on it. Hundreds of them fell into the river. Only approximately 125 passengers could be supported by the bridge, according to officials. Numerous children and women doing Chhath puja rituals were present.
Despite the fact that tickets were sold, neither the private enterprise nor the administration appeared to be in charge of crowd control. The suspension bridge, which is listed as a well-liked tourism destination on the website of the Gujarati government, is said to have had no limit on the number of visitors.
Ajanta, a firm that makes clocks, and the Morbi municipal authority entered into a 15-year agreement for maintenance of the bridge and ticket sales.
The acquisition was finalised in March of this year after discussions about it began in January 2020.
The corporation would increase the ticket price yearly in accordance with the deal, which is in effect until 2037.
How the bridge was reopened to traffic without any apparent official clearance is unclear.
Harsh Sanghavi, the minister for Gujarat, dodged NDTV’s inquiries about the bridge’s operation without a fitness certificate.
A commission has been established by the Gujarati government to look into the causes of the bridge collapse and its contributing elements.