At least 132 people were killed after a Century-old bridge collapsed in Gujarat’ Morbi on the evening of 30 October 2022. While around 177 people have been rescued so far, a search operation is underway for several others who are missing. The suspension bridge collapsed when around 500 had congregated to perform some rituals for the Chhath Puja. Gujarat’s home minister Harsh Sangvi said that a criminal case has been registered and a 5-membered high-powered committee is probing the bridge collapse.
A rescue operation was quickly launched following the bridge collapse with 5 teams of NDRF. Later, the army, navy and air force joined the operation.
What had happened on the Morbi bridge?
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There was an unusual rush at the Machchhu river in Gujarat’s Morbi district on the occasion of Chhath Puja. As the banks got crowded, people started assembling over the bridge to watch the immersion of idols in the river.
The entry to the 765-metre-long bridge, which was opened for the public on October 26, 2022, by Jaysukh Patel, MD of Oreva Group got the bridge repaired, was from the Morbi town side and exited from the other.
“Normally, people walk through the bridge and exit from the other side. Whenever the security personnel see people standing on the bridge and there is a rush, ticket issuing gets halted,” said a person who identified himself as Suleman.
That did not happen on the evening of October 30th, locals said.
According to officials, around 220 tickets were issued from the ticket counter but many more entered as the lone security guard failed to bar them from entering. “Many others entered without a ticket,” said a Morbi municipal authority official, quoting a preliminary inquiry.
Eyewitnesses said that there were almost 500 people on the nearly 150-year-old bridge when the cables supporting it snapped, sending scores of people trembling into the river below.
The chief security officer of the municipality, Sandeep Singh Jhala, said the bridge was reopened without informing the authorities. “It was opened to the public after the completion of the renovation work. We are not aware whether it had a fitness certificate (after the renovation work),” said Jhala.
The fitness certificate was supposed to be issued by a third party, officials said. The Jindal Group had said the bridge with a carrying capacity of 100 persons was safe for operation for another 25 years.
The state government has announced a compensation of ₹4lakh to the family members of each who died in the accident and ₹50000 for the injured. Prime minister Narendra Modi has also announced an ex-gratia of ₹2lakh to the Victims’ kin.
Similar incidents remind us of Gujarat bridge collapse
Jharkhand cable car accident
The Morbi bridge collapse brings to mind the Jharkhand cable car accident which took place on April 12, 2022, and claimed 3 lives. The interesting factor in both accidents is that Both were being operated without the concerned departmental nod.
Let us rewind to the 2010 Commonwealth Games. A suspension bridge outside the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium collapsed and 27 workers died. At that time, most of the world’s nations were keeping a close eye on India, and several fingers were already pointing at the hygiene and facilities provided to the athletes. The incident just added fuel to the fire.
There were several incidents when common people have to pay for the repercussions of corruption done by people in power. Several others are smelling the smog of conspiracy, corruption and negligence in the recent Gujarat bridge collapse.
It will be interesting to watch the culprits get their fair share of punishments or walk away clean.