An activist based in Surat has filed a PIL demanding a magisterial inquiry in the Bridge collapse tragedy which took 140 lives at Morbi. Sanjeev Ezhava, the petitioner has sought an investigation by an independent agency like the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and structural engineering experts in the matter.
Filing the PIL through advocate K R Koshti, a day after the Gujarat high court took suo motu cognizance of the horrific incident, the petitioner requested the HC to disband the five-member committee formed by the Gujarat government. The petition said that there are no members experienced in investigating such matters included.
The petition seeks the formation of a special investigation team comprising experts from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) or the National Institute of Technology (NIT) who could check the structure. The petitioner cited that in past incidents, such as the collapse of Athwalines Bridge in Surat, the probe was carried out by an eight-member technical expert committee from SVNIT.
The firm which was allotted the assignment of repairing the British-era bridge had no expertise in the matter of repairs, renovation or maintenance of a bridge. It gave a sub-contract to a small unknown contractor, Devprakash Solutions, for Rs 2 crore. The contractor replaced the wooden deck with an aluminium deck. They did not replace the corroded suspension cables.The bridge collapse killed 135 people including 55 children on October 30.
The Morbi municipality and Oreva Group did not seek any advice or approval regarding the structural design of the bridge. No fitness certificate was issued before reopening it to the public either.
Ezhava pleaded with the HC that compensation of Rs 25 lakh to the kin of the deceased and Rs 5 lakh to the injured be paid by the government.