Oreva is being blamed for multiple lapses, including its alleged failure to take a fitness certificate
A day after 141 people died in a bridge collapse at Gujarat’s Morbi, two officials of Oreva, the company that renovated the bridge, were arrested.
Sources say they are mid-level employees of Oreva, which has been accused of violating multiple safety rules, leading to the huge tragedy. The company’s senior officials have been missing since the bridge tragedy, one of the worst the country has seen.
Oreva, a watchmaker, allegedly outsourced the “technical aspect of the bridge renovation” to a smaller company with an unknown record, Devprakash Solutions.
According to police sources, Oreva reopened the bridge before schedule, without taking a fitness certificate from the civic body.
The company was hired for repair work on the historic colonial-era bridge in March. The bridge was reopened to the public seven months later, on October 26, when the Gujarati New Year was celebrated.
The company was bound by its contract to keep the bridge shut for at least eight to 12 months for maintenance and repairs.
The 15-year contract signed between the Morbi municipal body and Ajanta Manufacturing Private Limited, which is a part of the Oreva group, allowed the company to raise the ticket prices every year till 2037.
Tickets were sold for Rs 12 to Rs 17 yesterday, allegedly to nearly 500 people, which resulted in overcrowding on the “hanging bridge”, causing the old metal cables to give way. Many on the bridge were seen in CCTV footage rocking the bridge, which could take the weight of only about 125 people.
While reopening the bridge last week, Oreva Managing Director Jaysukhbhai Patel had told reporters that the company had completed “100 per cent renovation with two crores”.
He also explained why the company would sell tickets for the bridge. “We’ve just opened the bridge for the public so we cannot keep the entry free of charge, and we also don’t want to overwhelm the sturdiness of the bridge, so to limit the amount of entry and the crowd, we will charge for an entry,” Mr Patel had said.
He also claimed that the renovated bridge would sustain for “eight to 10 years”. The company also said it is considering requests to open the bridge at night for two hours.
News agency PTI quoted a group spokesperson as stating that the bridge collapsed as “too many people in the mid-section of the bridge were trying to sway it from one way to the other.”