The Gujarat Police on Wednesday said that the contractors roped in by the Oreva Group to restore a century-old suspension bridge in Morbi did not conduct any scientific assessment of its structural stability, reported The Indian Express.
The bridge on the Machchu river collapsed on October 30, killing 141 persons. The authorities said the Oreva Group, maker of Ajanta clocks and electrical products, was in March awarded a contract to maintain and manage the bridge for 15 years. It was reopened last week after seven months of renovation.
Morbi Deputy Superintendent of Police PA Zala, who is investigating the tragedy, on Wednesday summoned the city civic body’s Chief Officer Sandipsinh Zala and questioned him for four hours, reported NDTV.
Sandipsinh Zala was asked to explain the agreement signed with the Oreva Group to renovate the bridge.
He was also asked whether the civic body had determined how many people the old bridge can hold without compromising safety, during the signing of the agreement with the Gujarat-based company.
The police have arrested two managers of Oreva Group, as well as two ticket clerks, two contractors and three security guards on charges including culpable homicide not amounting to murder. The two accused contractors, Prakash Parmar and Devang Parmar, along with the two Oreva Group managers Deepak Navindchandra Parekh and Dinesh Mahasukhrai Dave are in police custody till November 5.
“A one-page contract was signed between Oreva and the contractor company, awarding Rs 29 lakh for the bridge repair and with no specification on a standard operating procedure for the work or the works that are required to be completed,” PA Zala told The Indian Express.
On Tuesday, the Morbi Police told a local court that many of the cables of the bridge were rusty and the accident could have been avoided if they were replaced.
“No documentation of what work and how it was done has been maintained,” PA Zala added. “The material procured/used, if its quality was checked, remains to be probed.”
Citing a Forensic Science Laboratory report, the prosecution while seeking custody of the accused persons, told the court that experts believe the main cable of the bridge snapped because of the weight of the new flooring.
Parekh, one of the two arrested managers, said that it was “the will of God” that the tragedy took place.