Morbi Bridge: Swinging bridge claims over 130 lives; no minister quits in Gujarat yet

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News Analysis

By Manish Anand

New Delhi, October 31: Over 130 people have so far lost their lives, while more than 300 personnel are carrying out searches following the Morbi Bridge collapse in Gujarat. Nine people have been arrested, which include the likes of managers and security guards, while reports suggest that the bridge was opened for tourists without fitness certificate, while the vintage cable-supported structure was being managed by a company known for selling watches.

Former Deputy Chief Minister of Gujarat Nitin Patel has said that the state government had no role in allowing the opening of the ill-fated bridge, which was done by the local administration. Patel is no more a minister, and he once aspired to become Chief Minister of Gujarat, while being known to launch in monologues when he sees a television cameraperson.

Grief stricken people who lost their relatives, including sons and daughters, claimed that the people on the ground managing the bridge were busy selling tickets even while the crowd went beyond the carrying capacity of the cable bridge. They charged that the police were not called in to stop the crowd from charging the bridge. It also appears that the company maintaining the bridge and selling tickets for passage to the bridge for the tourists had no manpower to deal with situations arising out of accidents, as there were no divers to rescue the people who were drowned.

Cable-supported bridges are aplenty in India, and they date back to the British time. Since it’s much cheaper to build cable-supported bridges, state governments are now opting for this for traffic solutions at roundabouts. Old bridges, road and rail, too would be aplenty with ages of over 100 years in the country, and still in the service. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has ordered a health audit of all such bridges in the state.

Such mishaps take place in India regularly, and the district administrations across the country are found to be inadequate to the task, with capacity to manage the crowd stymied and there being absolutely no practice of standard operating procedure. The social media activists were out in full strength; one section drumming up sabotage theory, while another digging out Modi video from West Bengal in 2016 where he had said “it’s not act of God, but act of fraud” to a bridge collapse incident in the state.

Modi, meanwhile, took a review meeting with the officials at the Raj Bhavan in Gandhinagar after attending a number of events to either inaugurate or lay the foundation stones for developmental projects. No Minister in the Gujarat government has yet quit, while taking moral responsibility for the Morbi mishap.

In 2016, Indore-Rajendra Nagar Express had derailed in Kanpur, leaving over 150 passengers dead, while the Union Minister for Railways Suresh Prabhu had instantly speculated of sabotage. Five years later the report of the probe claimed mechanical faults, corrosion of the tracks and so on, while the National Investigative Agency (NIA) till date hasn’t divulged details of its findings on the mishap.

The people have a short memory, and the political class makes the most of it. No head rolls even if hundreds die. Accountability is theoretical.

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1 thought on “Morbi Bridge: Swinging bridge claims over 130 lives; no minister quits in Gujarat yet

  1. I’m truly devastated to read about the Morbi bridge incident. My heart goes out to all those that lost their loved ones! I truly believe that stringent measures should be undertaken against the staff that was employed to look over the maintenance as well as the activities concerning the bridge.

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