The Morbi Civic Body submitted its counter-affidavit today in a suo moto case pertaining to the accident that took place on October 30, when the Morbi Bridge Collapsed taking lives of 135 people.
The Morbi Civic Body told the Gujarat High Court that the Bridge was reopened for the public at large after the renovation work on October 26 by the Ajanta Company (Oreva Group) without any prior approval.
The In-charge Chief Officer of Morbi Nagar Palika, in the affidavit mentioned that they were not even informed about the kind of repairing work which was undertaken by the company.
The affidavit clearly mentions that the company did not provide any independent third-party certificate related to fitness of the bridge, or any other certificate to test material, structure fitness, holding Capacity and fitness, or for that matter stability of suspension bridge.
The Gujarat High Court had asked the Morbi Nagar Palika (MNP) for putting across all the records of the General Board approval of the renewed agreement, after which the civic body had decided to hand over the operation of Julto Pul in Morbi to a private contractor for a period of 15 years.
The division bench of Chief Justice Aravind Kumar and Justice Ashutosh J Shastri hsave noted that this year, when the agreement between the contractor and the MNP was renewed, its chief officer had put it on papers that agreement would be executed subject to its approval by the General Board of the civic body.
The bench questioned that the copy of the same is not placed on record. Hence, we hereby direct the Morbi Municipality to place on record the copy of the approval granted by its General Board to the agreement.
The Court has instructed the current chief officer of Morbi Nagara Palika to be personally present in the court on the next date of hearing on November 24.
The bench also made a note from the MNP’s affidavit that on December 29, 2021, the contractor had written to the chief officer about the ‘critical condition’ of the suspension bridge, due to which the bridge was closed down from March 7, 2022 to October 25.
The bench said that despite the contractor intimating the MNP about the critical condition of the suspension bridge, it continued to be open for public use till March 7.
The Court has thus asked the MNP ton file a fresh affidavit disclosing as to how the contractor was permitted to use the bridge between this period
The bench is also wishful to know ahow the contractor threw open the bridge on October 25, without any prior sanction or approval from the MNP.