Gujarat govt serves notice to Morbi civic body

The court is hearing a suo motu PIL on the bridge collapse tragedy

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Gujarat govt serves notice to Morbi civic body

Close to three months after the Morbi suspension bridge collapse which left 135 people dead, the Gujarat government has issued a show-cause notice to the civic body asking why it should not be superseded as it had completely failed in discharging its basic duties.

The notice issued by urban development department on Wednesday also states that the municipality had turned a blind eye to repeated letters written by the Oreva Group, which was contracted to operate and maintain the bridge, warning about its dilapidated condition and that it was a catastrophe waiting to happen.

From all the available facts and records, it looks like the earlier operations contract for the suspension bridge had ended in March 2017.

After that, Oreva Group made it clear through several letters to the municipality between January 13, 2018, and January 9, 2020 that the bridge's condition was extremely dilapidated and that it should be immediately closed and repairs should be carried out. If kept open, there can be a serious accident and loss of lives," the notice stated. 

However, it's amply clear that the municipality did not take these warnings seriously, the notice reads.

The UDD notice largely relied on the preliminary findings of the three-member special investigation team (SIT) which was formed to probe the accident that took place on October 30 night with the majority of the 135 victims drowning in the Machchhu River.

The Morbi civic body has 52 members, all from BJP. The UDD action comes on the heels of the Gujarat high court repeatedly questioning the state government why it did not taken action against the municipality under section 263 of the Gujarat Municipalities Act for the default it committed in performing its duties.

The court is hearing a suo motu PIL on the bridge collapse tragedy.

The state government informed the court that it was mulling to take action against the municipality.

Meanwhile, 48 councillors from Morbi approached the court requesting it not to pass any direction against them without hearing them.

They requested the HC to allow them to join the PIL, but their plea was dismissed.

Senior officials in the urban development department told sources that the government was certain to supersede the municipality and the show-cause notice is a part of this process.

The notice also states that Morbi civic body did not take any concrete steps for repair or maintenance of the bridge despite a series of meetings between government officials and stakeholders after the Oreva Group's contract expired in 2017.

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