As reports last came in, the bodies of 141 men, women and children have been recovered from the Machchhu river, in Morbi town in Gujarat. Hundreds of people were having a weekend outing on a suspension bridge over the river, when the bridge collapsed on Sunday, October 30, at 6.40 pm. The death toll figures are steadily rising and many are reported missing.
Communist Ghadar Party extends its heartfelt condolences to the families of those who have lost their lives in the bridge collapse.
The collapse of the suspension bridge points to criminal negligence of the authorities at the highest level, and their collusion with the private capitalists who were responsible for maintenance and operation of the bridge.
The 150 year-old, 756-metre-long suspension bridge broke, with 400-500 people on it, more than thrice its capacity, resulting in hundreds of people falling into the river.
According to the authorities of Morbi Municipality, the bridge was given to a private company, Oreva, for operation and maintenance for 15 years. In March 2022, it was closed to the public for renovation. It reopened after renovation on the Gujarati New Year day, October 26. But the local municipality had not yet issued any fitness certificate (after the renovation work).
According to people who had gone to the bridge for sight seeing, but were fortunate enough to leave before it collapsed, the bridge was terribly overcrowded, clearly many times beyond its capacity. People had tried to warn the authorities of the overloading of the bridge and the impending disaster, but the authorities ignored these warnings. The private company operating the bridge kept issuing tickets to more and more people, despite the warnings, to increase its revenues.
People living in the vicinity immediately rushed to the spot. Risking their own lives, many of them jumped into the water, dragged people ashore, and assisted those who could swim to reach the banks. Local fishermen were the first to provide help with their boats. Teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) the Army, Navy and Air Force were also deployed for rescue operations.
The criminal negligence of the state is responsible for the tragic death of so many people in this incident. How could the state authorities allow hundreds of people to gather at the bridge when no fitness certificate had been issued, in numbers many times the certified capacity of the bridge? Even after people warned the authorities, no steps were taken to prevent the accident. Ensuring the security of people in public places where large numbers gather is the responsibility of the state. Lack of fulfilling its duty in this regard amounts to nothing short of deliberate murder.
People are justly demanding a thorough investigation into the incident. They are demanding answers to several questions, which have been kept in the dark till now by the civic authorities, such as — what materials the contractor used in the renovation of the bridge, why was the bridge opened to the public before the fitness certificate was issued, what inspections and fitness tests were actually carried out before opening the bridge for use, and so on.
The Morbi bridge collapse is one more man made tragedy inflicted upon our people by a system in which the overriding concern of the state is to ensure the profits of private capitalists, without caring for the safety and well being of masses of people.
Communist Ghadar Party condemns the criminal negligence of the state in causing the death of hundreds of people in the Morbi bridge collapse. We demand a thorough investigation into the incident and the strictest action against all those guilty of causing the death of these hundreds of people, no matter how high a position they hold in the administration.