The Gujarat High Court slammed the Morbi civic body on Tuesday for “serious lapses” in awarding the contract for repair work on the Morbi Bridge, which collapsed on October 30 killing at least 130 people. The High Court chastised the Morbi civic body for “acting smart” and demanded direct answers from it regarding the manner in which the contract for maintenance of the 150-year-old bridge that collapsed on October 30 was awarded.
“The municipality, a government body, has defaulted, which ultimately killed 135 people,” the court said as a preliminary observation. As the municipality was not represented by any officials today despite a notice, the bench remarked, “They are acting smart.”
“The state shall also place on record reasons why disciplinary proceedings against chief officer of the civic body aren’t commenced,” it said. “The largesse of the state seems to have been granted without there being any tender floated in this regard,” its order noted.
Chief Justice Aravind Kumar, referring to the state’s Chief Secretary, sought to know “Why was the tender for the repair work of a public bridge not floated? Why weren’t bids invited?” It may be noted that the Morbi civic body had given the 15-year contract to Oreva Group, which is best known for the Ajanta brand of wall clocks.
The HC said on November 7 that it had taken suo motu cognisance of a news report on the bridge collapse tragedy and registered it as a PIL.
It directed the registry to summon the Gujarat government, represented by the state home department, the commissioner of municipalities, the Morbi municipality, the district collector, and the State Human Rights Commission.
“Respondents 1 and 2 (chief secretary and home secretary) shall file a status report by next Monday. The State Human Rights Commission shall file a report in this regard by the next date of hearing,” the court had said in its order.