Fix accountability for the Morbi tragedy, now - Hindustan Times
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Fix accountability for the Morbi tragedy, now

ByHT Editorial
Feb 20, 2023 08:11 PM IST

A speedy investigation and adequate punishment will establish a formidable deterrent to such behaviour. But what’s also needed is a new standard operating procedure for all such work, with rigorous checks and penalties

Nearly four months after 135 people plunged to their deaths when a British-era bridge in Gujarat’s Morbi town gave way, the truth appears to be finally emerging. A report by the Gujarat government-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) has found that nearly half of the wires on one cable that held up the suspension bridge were corroded and that old suspenders were welded with new ones, this newspaper reported on Monday.

Rescuers search for survivors after a suspension bridge collapsed in Morbi town in Gujarat, October 31, 2022 (REUTERS) PREMIUM
Rescuers search for survivors after a suspension bridge collapsed in Morbi town in Gujarat, October 31, 2022 (REUTERS)

The SIT noted that of the two main cables that held up the bridge, built by the erstwhile colonial rulers in 1887 over the Machchhu river, one was corroded, and nearly half of its wires were possibly already broken even before the cable snapped on October 30. The SIT also found that during the renovation, “old suspenders (steel rods which connect the cable with the platform deck) were welded with new ones”. These are serious failures, and culpability must be accepted by the company deemed responsible for the maintenance and operation of the heritage structure, the sub-contractors who allegedly used sub-standard materials and cut corners in the repair work, and the municipal authorities who appear to have flouted norms in awarding the contract and who looked the other way when regulations were violated and the bridge opened to the public without adequate checks.

What’s worse – many of these facts have been in the open for some weeks now, but holding people responsible for the tragedy appears to be moving slowly. Jaysukh Patel, of Oreva Group, which oversaw the renovation and maintenance, only surrendered to the police on January 31, and is currently in judicial custody.

A speedy investigation and adequate punishment will establish a formidable deterrent to such behaviour. But what’s also needed is a new standard operating procedure for all such work, with rigorous checks and penalties.

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