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Gujarat Bridge Collapse: Death Toll Raises To 141; Private Trust Accused Of Not Seeking Fitness Certificate After Renovation

In an overnight rescue operation till now 177 people have been rescued. High Power Committee is going to investigate the case.

The death toll in the fatal Gujarat bridge collapse case now stands at 141. While throughout the night the rescue operation was on and Indian Army, Indian Navvy, Indian Airforce, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) rescued 177 people from Macchu river, it is feared that several people are still stuck in the water.

On the occasion of Chhath Puja, when around 500 people gathered on the suspension bridge in the evening to perform some rituals at Macchu river in Morbi, 200 kms away from Ahmedabad, the bridge suddenly got collapsed.

The 150 years’ old British era bridge was closed for almost seven months due to renovation works. It is only on October 26 on the occasion of Gujarati new year, it was opened for the public.

The injured patients were taken to Morbi civil hospital where their treatments are underway. According to the reports of India Today, 40 doctors from different health centres including from hospitals in Rajkot and Surendranagar are now treating the injured patients.

The state government has already announced Rs. 4 Lakh ex-gratia to the victims of the collapse and Rs. 50,000 to the injured persons, tweeted Chief Minister Bhupinder Patel. Compensation of Rs. 2 lakhs have also been announced from the PM’s National Relief Fund for the families of the victims.

Bridge opened without clearance certificate from Government

According to the reports of NDTV, a private trust named Oreva that renovated the bridge in government tender didn’t take the required fitness certificate from the authorities prior to reopening it.

Morbi municipal agency chief Sandipsinh Zala in an interview told NDTV, “Oreva group was supposed to give its renovation details and get a quality check before opening the bridge. But it did not do so. The government was not aware about this.”

Government taking Responsibility

Taking the responsibility of the tragedy in the poll bound state, Brijesh Mirja, Labour and Employment Minister of Gujarat said, “Renovation happened last week. We are also shocked. We are looking into the matter… The government takes responsibility for this tragedy.”

Gujarat Home Minister Harsh Snghavi today morning told the reporters that more than 200 people have worked throughout the night in search and rescue operation. He also added a criminal case has been lodged under sections 304, 308 and 114. A high-power committee would be formed to investigate the matter further.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is also currently in Gujarat earlier expressed his condolences to the victims’ families and tweeted, “I am deeply saddened by the tragedy at Morbi. Talked to Gujarat Chief Minister Shri @Bhupendrapbjp and other officials about this. Relief and rescue operations are going on in full swing and all necessary assistance is being provided to the affected.”

He earlier cancelled his Ahmedabad roadshow scheduled for today following the fatal incident.

From Kevadia today the PM said, “I express my condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in the accident. In this hour of grief, the government is with the bereaved families in every way. The Gujarat government has been carrying out relief and rescue ops since yesterday. The centre, too, is extending all help to the state government.” Referring to ‘Kartavya’ (Duty), he added, “Rarely in my life, have I experienced such pain. On one hand, there is a pain-riddled heart and on the other hand, there is the path to duty.”

Reactions from the Oppositions

Appealing to the workers to extend the required supports in rescue operations, the newly appointed Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge in a tweet in Hindi said, “Deeply saddened by the tragedy that has struck us with the collapse of the suspension bridge in Morbi, Gujarat. I appeal to the @INCGujarat workers to extend every possible assistance in rescue work & helping the wounded. My condolences & prayers are with the bereaved families.”

However, Communist Party of India (CPI) leader Binoy Viswam hit out at the BJP over the bridge collapse, claiming that it points to the “gross negligence” of the state government.

AAP’s MLA and leader Atishi Marlena claimed answers from the Gujarat government and said that now the rescue operation and relief should be the focus but the accountability must be fixed. “Gujarat has just recovered from the hooch tragedy in which over 100 (people) died and now this. The Gujarat government has to answer,” she added.

(With the inputs of Outlook Web Desk).

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