About the Bridge
Morbi is the capital city of the Morbi district in Gujarat where the collapsed pedestrian suspension bridge or the hanging bridge with a length of over 200 meters was located. It was a popular tourist attraction located across the Machchhu River just as the city of Morbi. The bridge was inaugurated on February 20, 1879, by Mumbai governor Richard Temple. According to the Morbi district’s website, the bridge “reflects the progressive and scientific nature of the rulers of Morbi. This was built to give a unique identity to Morbi using the latest technology available in those days, in Europe.”
Morbi Municipality owns the bridge, and its maintenance and operations were privatized in March 2022 to Oreva group on a 15-year contract. The bridge was closed from March and was reopened on October 26, 2022 without a fitness certificate, allegedly.
About the Collapse
The suspension bridge collapsed on 30th October 2022 evening. The CCTV footages of the bridge collapse has surfaced on 31st October 2022 which can be seen below.
#Watch the CCTV footage of the bridge collapse in Gujarat’s Morbi. Over 200 people have been rescued from the site of the incident, MoS Harsh Sanghvi said Monday. #MorbiBridgeCollapse
Follow live updates: https://t.co/yxhdG5Hw3P pic.twitter.com/d1cKoTSDQw
— The Indian Express (@IndianExpress) October 31, 2022
After the collapse of the bridge, various news channels spread this video claiming to be taken moments before the collapse of the bridge. NDTV reported that this particular video was taken a day earlier than the collapse of the bridge.
The collapse is said to have been caused by overloading of pedestrians. According to the news reports, there were over 500 people on the bridge as against its capacity of 125 people, at the time of the collapse. The collapse of the bridge had resulted in death of at least 141 people at the time of writing this article. The death toll is higher than the rated capacity of the suspension bridge.
Blame-game for the Collapse:
Social media is rife with various theories and allegations regarding the collapse of the bridge. There have been many accusations, reasons claimed for the collapse from various quarters and the most prominent ones are listed below and discussed briefly below.
- Aam Aadmi Party’s conspiracy
- Terrorists attack
- Muslims’ plot
- Unruly behavior of pedestrians/tourists
- BJP corruption and enquiry committee
Aam Aadmi Party’s conspiracy
Gujarat’s elections are imminent, and the election campaigns have reached a fever pitch. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had been visiting the state very often in the past few weeks and has unveiled various schemes. Similarly, Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal had been visiting the states quite frequently. There have been allegations against AAP for the collapse of the bridge as some of the AAP supporters and AAP MLA of Uttam Nagar constituency in Delhi Naresh Balyan tweeted that BJP could face severe setback the next day.
Several twitter users were alleging that the AAP was behind the collapse of the bridge including the film director, Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri who directed the movie “Kashmir Files”.
There is no doubt now that #MorbiBridgeCollapse is a sabotage by #UrbanNaxals as a planned strategy. They have been destroying schools, hospitals, roads, rail tracks & bridges. You must know @ArvindKejriwal’s @AamAadmiParty gives protection to #UrbanNaxals pic.twitter.com/UHKCnRs9LA
— Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri (@vivekagnihotri) October 31, 2022
— Major Surendra Poonia (@MajorPoonia) October 31, 2022
Another angle that was explored by the social media users happened to be terrorist plot. There have been varying degrees of this claim ranging from ‘this could be a terrorist attack’ to ‘the persons involved in the crash should be considered terrorists.’ There have been no such affirmations from the official sources claiming that the Morbi tragedy was a terrorist attack and the social media theories on this line are just too outlandish. Some of those claims can be seen here and here.
There has been another outlandish claim that this is an outlandish accusing Muslims for the collapse. It is being alleged that the bridge was purposefully damaged by the Muslims, and this is being considered highly dangerous and there have been massive criticism in social media for looking at a Muslim-angle in every issue some of which can be seen here, here and here.
Unruly behavior of pedestrians/tourists
This is probably one of the most popular allegations which some news outlets too encouraged unwittingly. The repeated telecast and spread of unverified footages and old footages as taken moments before the collapse has led to many believing that the collapse took place due to the unruly behavior of those using the bridge. In the videos, we can see many youngsters trying to sway the bridge, and some are seen even kicking the railings of the bridge. However, there have been several videos of such behavior from the tourists/pedestrians in the past as well and the bridge had stayed intact, although these actions may have theoretically caused some structural damages in the past.
With the CCTV footages of the collapse, we can see that the swaying was not as bad as the ones seen in the past. In the CCTV footage that has come out, we could see only a person in a white shirt trying to sway the bridge.
BJP’s Corruption and Enquiry Committee
The State Government of Gujarat had set up a 5-member enquiry committee to enquire what had caused the collapse. However, there have been criticism on the committee from AAP party. Its social media team Member had put out a tweet alleging that the committee is in fact to hide the BJP’s corruption.
Capacity of Morbi Hanging Bridge was 150 people.
At the time of accident, there were 350+ ppl on the bridge.
Who allowed so many ppl on a bridge, which don’t even have a fitness certificate?
You will never get the answer as a committee has been formed to hide BJP’s corruption
— Kapil (@kapsology) October 31, 2022
Along with the allegation that the bridge was reopened without proper fitness certificate, questions were raised that how a popular public attraction can be opened without the officials getting to know about it. It was expected that further enquiry would delve deep into the cause of the tragedy, and now that the committee has been formed, we have to wait for the detailed report from the committee.
There have been several allegations against the company, Oreva group, in their maintenance and also poor handling of the crowd which led to overcrowding of the bridge, which could have possibly caused the collapse, since the bridge is capable of withstanding the weight of only 125 people but the death toll itself is at least 141 people. There has been criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi too, linking his comments on a bridge collapse which he declared as the “Act of Fraud” against the “Act of God” which was touted as the reason for the collapse, to draw a parallel and question if Morbi bridge collapse is “Act of Fraud” too. There is also an allegation of severe corruption in the reopening of the bridge without a proper fitness certificate. Along with it, there are allegations of sabotage by various quarters too, which should be clarified by the State Government and the Union Government to not give a chance for communal tensions to rise, with 2002 violence still lingering in people’s minds.