One of the accused in the Gujarat bridge collapse tragedy in which 135 people were killed told a court that it was “the will of God” that the incident took place.
The comment was by Deepak Parekh, a manager of the Oreva company that was responsible for the maintenance of the 150-year-old bridge. He is one of the nine people arrested after the bridge crashed on Sunday.
“It was bhagwan ki ichcha (the will of God) that such an unfortunate event happened,” he told Chief Judicial Magistrate MJ Khan.
Morbi Deputy Superintendent of Police PA Zala told the court that the cable of the bridge was “rusted” and had not been replaced by the company that renovated it.
The bridge was reopened to the public on October 26 without government approval or quality testing. “As part of maintenance and repair, only the platform was changed. The bridge was on a cable and no oiling or greasing of the cable was done. From where the cable broke, the cable was rusted. Had the cable been repaired, the incident would not have happened,” the police officer said.
A prosecutor told the judge that the contractors who carried out the bridge repairs were not qualified for the maintenance of public infrastructure.
“Despite that, these contractors were given repair work of the bridge in 2007 and then in 2022,” the prosecutor said.
Since the cables had not been replaced, they snapped as they could not take the weight of the new flooring. The weight of the bridge had increased due to four-layered aluminium sheets used in the flooring.
Oreva’s Managing Director Jaysukhbhai Patel, who had publicly claimed that the renovated bridge will hold up for at least eight to ten years, has not been seen since the tragedy, locals have told NDTV. Mr Patel was last seen, along with his family, at the reopening of the bridge.
The Oreva company’s farmhouse in Ahmedabad is locked and abandoned.
The police FIR does not mention the Oreva’s top bosses or the Morbi municipal officials who gave the company the contract.
Deepak Parekh, another manager of the Oreva Group and two sub-contractors who had repaired the bridge were sent to police custody till Saturday. Five other arrested men, including security guards and ticket booking clerks, are in judicial custody.
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