Morbi bridge collapse, Jaysukh Patel Oreva Group
In all, 135 people were killed and scores injured when the British-era suspension bridge collapsed in Morbi on October 30, 2022

Morbi bridge crash: Gujarat govt opposes interim bail plea of Oreva Group promoter

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The Gujarat government on Saturday opposed the interim bail sought by Oreva Group promoter Jaysukh Patel to pay compensation to the kin of victims of last year’s Morbi suspension bridge collapse that left 135 dead.

Patel sought to be let out on bail for 15-20 days to complete the formalities required to recompense the families of the dead and the 56 persons injured in the accident involving the British-era bridge on the Machchu river. However, the prosecution said his presence was not required for the work.

HC directed Oreva to pay up

The Gujarat High Court had on February 22 directed the company, which maintained the 1887-built structure before it collapsed on October 30 killing 135, to pay an interim compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the kin of each of the deceased and Rs 2 lakh to each injured within four weeks.

Also read: Morbi bridge crash: Oreva Group offers ₹5 crore compensation to victims

The court of principal district and sessions judge PC Joshi reserved its decision on Patel’s interim bail plea for March 7 after the state government as well as the family members of the victims opposed his plea during the hearing on Saturday.

Special public prosecutor SK Vora said Oreva Group itself came forward with the offer before the HC directive to pay compensation to the victims, and it should be assumed that it was ready with the financial arrangement required for such a payout.

He also submitted that last month’s high court order was for Oreva Group and not its promoter and that the company has continued to operate even when Patel is behind bars.

‘Patel shouldn’t be let out’

Dilip Agechaniya, who represented the victims’ families, told the court that Patel should not be let out at this juncture as he may tamper with the evidence and influence witnesses. Patel’s presence is not required to release the compensation as there are other top officials of Oreva Group who can perform the financial transactions required for this, he said.

Also read: Corroded wires, welded suspenders led to Morbi bridge tragedy: SIT report

Oreva Group had initially told the high court that it was ready to pay an interim compensation of Rs 5 crore to the kin of those who lost their lives and the injured in the tragedy that was the result of several alleged lapses.

The police have arrested 10 persons, including Patel, and all the accused are currently lodged in the Morbi sub-jail. Patel, who was named as an accused in the chargesheet filed by a special investigation team (SIT), remained absconding for three months till he surrendered before a court on January 31.

The SIT has found in its preliminary probe that corrosion on nearly half of the wires on a cable and welding of old suspenders with new ones were some of the major faults that led to the collapse of the suspension bridge in Morbi last year in which 135 people were killed. The SIT had found several lapses in repairs, maintenance and operation of the bridge.

(With Agency inputs)

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