The Gujarat government has issued a show-cause notice to the local municipality, asking it to reply why it should not be dissolved for failing to discharge its duties over the Morbi bridge collapse in which at least 135 people were killed.
The notice was issued on Wednesday (January 18) by the state Urban Development Department, which directed the Morbi civic body to submit a written clarification in the form of a general body resolution by January 25.
The state government on December 13 had told the Gujarat High Court, which took cognisance of the tragedy on its own and registered a public interest litigation (PIL), that it had decided to dissolve the municipality.
At least 135 persons were killed when the suspension bridge on the Machchhu river in Morbi town collapsed on October 30 last year. The bridge was maintained and operated by Oreva Group as per an agreement signed with Morbi municipality.
The department in its notice said the previous contract to operate the bridge expired in 2017. Between 2018 and 2020, Oreva Group had written several letters to the Morbi municipality, warning about the dilapidated condition of the bridge and also cautioned that a serious accident may occur if the bridge remains open to the public in such a condition.
However, the civic body did not take cognisance of such warnings by the company, the notice said.
The notice added that the municipality did not take any concrete action to take over the bridge from the company in 2017 after the completion of the contract and remained inactive despite knowing the situation of the bridge.
“The company failed to hand over the bridge to the concerned authority and no corrective action could be taken by either party to improve the condition of the bridge,” the notice said citing the findings of a Special Investigation Team (SIT).
The letter also spoke about lapses on the part of Oreva Group in repairs, maintenance and operation of the bridge, such as no restriction on the number of persons accessing the bridge at a given point in time, no restriction on the sale of tickets, leading to unrestricted movement on the bridge and repair being carried out without consulting competent experts.
(With inputs from agencies)