Ahmedabad: Two days after Oreva Group promoter Jaysukh Patel filed an anticipatory bail plea in a local court in connection with the collapse in October of the Morbi suspension bridge, claiming 141 lives, the Gujarat Police on Sunday issued an arrest warrant against him.
The suspension footbridge on the Machchu river in Gujarat’s Morbi town collapsed in the evening of Oct 30 last year, just four days after the bridge was reopened on Gujarati New Year day after being closed for seven months for renovation. The renovation work was carried out by the Oreva Group.
The arrest warrant was issued against Mr Patel on Sunday after a special investigation team constituted by the State Government to investigate the incident cited several lapses by the group in the repair, maintenance and operation of the bridge. A lookout notice was also issued against Mr Patel.
His anticipatory bail application is expected to be heard in the sessions court on Feb 1.
The police had on Oct 31 picked up nine persons – two managers of Oreva, two ticket clerks, two contractors and three security guards – on allegations of negligence.
On Nov 15, the Gujarat High Court hauled up the Government and asked it to explain why the BJP-ruled Morbi Municipality had awarded the contract for renovation of the century-old suspension bridge to the Oreva Group without floating a tender. The High Court is hearing a public-interest litigation in the matter.
The Morbi Municipality, on its part, alleged that the Oreva Group opened the bridge without seeking its approval or certifying that it was ready for use.
Mr Patel, head of the Oreva Group, best known for its clock-making firm, has remained underground ever since the incident. His name doesn't figure in the list of nine suspects arrested by the police. According to the police, Mr Patel's move to file an anticipatory bail application comes in view of the fact that they are going to file the charge sheet any time in the next one week.
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