In the tragedy of the Gujarat bridge collapse that killed 135 people, one of the defendants told the court that the incident happened “by God’s will”.
The comment was made by Deepak Parekh, manager of Oreva, which maintains the 150-year-old bridge. He was one of nine people arrested after the bridge crashed on Sunday.
“It was bhagwan ki ichcha (God’s will) that such an unfortunate event happened,” he told Chief Justice MJ Khan.
Morby Police Deputy Commissioner PA Zala told the court that the bridge’s cables were “rusted” and had not been replaced by the refurbishment company.
The bridge reopened to the public on October 26 without government approval or quality testing. “Only the platform was replaced as part of the maintenance and repair. The bridge was on the cable and the cable was not oiled or lubricated. From where the cable broke, the cable rusted. If the cable was repaired, the accident happened. No will happen,” police said.
A prosecutor has told a judge that the contractor doing bridge repairs is not qualified to maintain public infrastructure.
“Nevertheless, these contractors accepted repair work on the bridge in 2007 and 2022,” prosecutors said.
Since the cables weren’t replaced, they broke because they couldn’t take the weight of the new floor. The weight of the bridge has increased due to the use of four layers of aluminium panels in the floor.
Locals told NDTV that Oreva’s managing director Jaysukhbhai Patel had publicly claimed that the refurbished bridge would last at least eight to ten years, and has not been seen since the tragedy. Mr Patel and his family were last seen when the bridge reopened.
Oreva’s farmhouse in Ahmedabad is locked and abandoned.
The police FIR made no mention of Oreva’s top leadership or the Morbi city officials who gave the company the contract.
Another manager of Oreva Group, Deepak Parekh, and two subcontractors repairing the bridge were taken to police custody until Saturday. Five other arrested men, including security guards and conductors, have been taken into judicial custody.
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