Gujarat Finance Minister Kanu Desai has announced a budget of 3.01 lakh crore for the fiscal year 2023-24, which includes 550 crores for the reconstruction and strengthening of old bridges. The decision to prioritise bridge renovation is significant in light of the BJP-led government’s fallout from the collapse of the Morbi suspension bridge last year, which killed 135 people. Oreva, a private company, had renovated the bridge but had failed to obtain a fitness certificate from the local municipality before opening it to the public.
A ‘Preliminary Report on Morbi Bridge Incident,’ submitted by Gujarat government-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT), discovered numerous flaws in the bridge’s repairs, maintenance, and operation, including nearly half of the wires on one cable being corroded. The Morbi municipality recently received this report from the state department of urban development. The Gujarat High Court ordered Oreva Group to pay ten lakh rupees in interim compensation to the kin of each deceased person and two lakh rupees to each injured person within four weeks.
Desai’s budget includes a 23 per cent spike in budgetary provisions over the previous year, and the state plans to spend 5 lakh crore on infrastructure development over the next five years. The Finance Minister set aside 905 crores for metro projects in Ahmedabad and Surat, 200 crores for the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train, and 100 crores for the construction of iconic bridges in various municipal corporations.
The Assembly’s budget session began on Thursday and will last until March 29. This is Desai’s third budget in a row and the first since the BJP retained power with a large majority in the state assembly elections. The budget aims to benefit farmers while also encouraging economic activity in the agriculture, manufacturing, and service sectors. Desai also set aside Rs. 1,500 crores for the development of five highways as high-speed corridors, as well as Rs. 150 crores for the Sabarmati riverfront near GIFT City in Gandhinagar.