Morbi bridge collapse: SC to hear plea seeking judicial probe
The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking a judicial probe into the cable suspension bridge collapse in Morbi, Gujarat, on Sunday that reportedly killed nearly 140 people. The PIL filed by advocate Vishal Tiwari, which sought directions to constitute a judicial commission under the supervision of a retired Supreme Court judge, will be heard on November 14.
Why does this story matter?
- The 143-year-old colonial-era cable suspension bridge over the Machchhu River in Morbi collapsed on Sunday evening when 400-500 people were on it.
- Notably, the bridge reopened just four days before the mishap after being closed for six-seven months for renovation.
- The bridge, owned by the Morbi municipality, was contracted to Oreva Group—a wall clock and e-bike manufacturer—for maintenance and management operations for 15 years.
What happened in Supreme Court?
Tiwari presented the PIL before Chief Justice of India UU Lalit, who asked him, "You are very quick. What are your prayers?" Tiwari responded he was seeking a judicial commission to probe the bridge collapse, while the PIL mentioned there are numerous "old" structures across states facing the risk of collapse. Following brief submissions, the SC agreed to hear the plea on November 14.
Plea accused government of negligence
Tiwari's PIL said the Morbi incident demonstrates the negligence and complete failure of the Gujarat government authorities. It went on to say that, over the last decade, various such incidents have occurred in India as a result of mismanagement, lapses in duty, and lax maintenance activities. Notably, the 143-year-old Morbi bridge over the Machchhu River collapsed just days after it was reopened following repairs.
PIL sought risk assessment of old structures in all states
The PIL also argued that during the bridge collapse, there was an overload of people on it, adding the structure's private operator did not obtain the required fitness certificate before reopening it. While terming the incident a shocking act of human rights violation, it also urged the top court to issue directions to all states to conduct the risk assessment of all old structures.
PM Modi to visit Morbi to take stock of situation
Meanwhile, PM Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit Morbi on Tuesday to take stock of the situation there following the collapse of the 19th-century bridge. About 400-500 people—including many women and children—were on the bridge when its cables snapped, sending them crashing into the Machchhu River below, said reports. Many reportedly performed Chhath Puja rituals on the bridge and the river banks on Sunday.
Opposition corners BJP over Morbi tragedy
Following the incident, which is reportedly one of the deadliest bridge collapses, opposition party leaders have been attacking the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Gujarat over its "negligence." Some even questioned the government if it was an "act of God or fraud"—referring to PM Modi's old taunt at West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee over the 2016 Kolkata flyover collapse.