Morbi bridge crash: Oreva Group offers ₹5 crore compensation to victims
Clock manufacturing firm Oreva Group on Tuesday (February 22) offered before the Gujarat high court to pay an interim compensation totalling ₹5 crore to the kin of those who lost their lives and people left injured in the Morbi bridge crash in October last year.
The British-era suspension bridge was maintained and operated by the firm. The court, however, said the compensation offered by the company was not “just”.
The suspension bridge on the Machchhu river in Morbi town collapsed on October 30 last year, killing 135 persons and injuring 56 others.
The assurance on interim compensation was given in the HC by Ajanta Manufacturing Ltd (Oreva Group) during the hearing of a suo motu (on its own) PIL admitted last year following the tragedy.
Senior advocate Nirupam Nanavaty, appearing for Oreva Group, told the court if the compensation is broadly divided among the affected persons, the kin of the deceased should get nearly ₹ 3.5 lakh, while the injured will get ₹ 1 lakh each, which according to the HC, was not “just”.
“Is it just? You volunteered to pay a just compensation. Is it just according to you? This is not near to just compensation,” noted a division bench of Chief Justice Sonia Gokani and Justice Sandeep Bhatt.
The bench posted the further hearing on Wednesday and asked Nanavaty to take instructions from his client, whether the company would pay more compensation in the future because this payout has been termed as “not final”.
The bench had earlier made it clear that Oreva’s offer of compensation “will not absolve it of any liability”.
Oreva Group, led by its MD, Jaysukh Patel, was responsible for the operation and maintenance of the bridge, with a special investigation team (SIT) formed by the state government citing several lapses on the part of the firm.
Nanavaty informed the court that the amount of ₹ 5 crore is “ad-hoc” and “interim”. He said Oreva Group “will deposit ₹ 5 crore to the Gujarat government within two weeks and state can determine what amount is to be paid to the injured or to the kin of the deceased”
Moreover, the corporate entity has taken full responsibility of seven children who have lost both their parents in the tragedy, said Nanavaty.
These seven children will get all the required facilities such as residence and education, till they become majors. The company would also give them jobs as per their qualifications, said the senior advocate.
Advocate general Kamal Trivedi informed the court that the state, as well as the Centre, have so far paid a compensation of ₹10 lakh each to the kin of the deceased and ₹2 lakh to each injured person.
The Morbi police have arrested ten accused, including Oreva Group MD Jaysukh Patel, under IPC sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide), 336 (act which endangers human life), 337 (causing hurt to any person by doing any rash or negligent act) and under 338 (causing grievous hurt by doing rash or negligent act).