Months after the collapse of the Morbi suspension bridge which killed 135 people, the Gujarat government, Thursday, informed the High Court that it has formulated a uniform policy for bridges in the jurisdictions of municipal corporations and municipalities.
The state, in an affidavit submitted before a division bench of Acting Chief Justice AJ Desai and Justice Biren Vaishnav, said that a government resolution dated March 6 was issued to this effect. The affidavit dated March 7 was filed by Manish Shah, deputy secretary of urban development and urban housing department.
The court was hearing a suo motu (on its own) public interest litigation (PIL) on the October 30 incident of the suspension bridge collapse on the Machchhu river in Morbi.
Earlier, the Gujarat HC had suggested that the state formulate a uniform policy to fix accountability for bridges in cities, with each urban body governing bridge maintenance through their individual policies.
The policy notes that all major and special types of bridges should be inspected by the superintending engineer at least once every monsoon. It also provisions for the inspection of foundations of bridges during high floods to ascertain adequacy of the foundations and recording scour depths for foundations resting on rock.
The policy also stipulates guidelines for designating officials for registering inspection of cross-drainage works and bridges in cities, the signatories being the officer designated by the municipal commissioner in municipal corporations, municipal engineers for municipalities and executive engineers in urban area development authorities.
The court also inquired from the Oreva Group, responsible for the maintenance of the bridge, whether it has paid the interim compensation of Rs 10 lakh each to the family of deceased as was ordered by the court earlier.
Representing the company, senior advocate Nirupam Nanavaty informed that it was “under process”, adding, “…it is a family company. Main director is in judicial custody as of now.”
On March 7, a Morbi district court rejected the temporary bail plea by Oreva Group MD Jaysukh Patel that was sought on the ground of making financial arrangements to pay the interim compensation as ordered by the HC.