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HC orders Oreva Group to pay Rs 10 lakh ‘interim’ compensation to kin of each deceased

Morbi bridge collapse

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AHMEDABAD, Feb 22 (PTI): The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday directed clock manufacturing firm Oreva Group, the company that maintained the Morbi suspension bridge which collapsed killing 135 people in October last year, to pay Rs 10 lakh as “interim” compensation to the kin of each deceased and Rs 2 lakh to each injured within four weeks.

A division bench of Chief Justice Sonia Gokani and Justice Sandeep Bhatt gave this direction to the company.

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The British-era suspension bridge on the Machchhu river in Morbi town collapsed on October 30 last year, killing 135 persons and injuring 56 others.

The court ordered the company that the kin of each deceased and every injured person be paid interim compensation of Rs 10 lakh and Rs 2 lakh, respectively, within four weeks.

On Tuesday, during a hearing of a suo motu (on its own) PIL admitted last year following the tragedy, Ajanta Manufacturing Ltd (Oreva Group) had offered to pay Rs 5 lakh compensation to the kin of those who died and Rs 1 lakh to the injured persons.

In its interim order, the court said the central and the state governments have together provided Rs 10 lakh compensation to the kin of each victim so far.

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“The company had offered to give Rs 5 lakh each to the kin of those who lost their lives and Rs 1 lakh to those injured. However, this is not enough. The company has to pay Rs 10 lakh each to the kin of the victims and Rs 2 lakhs to those injured,” Justice Gokani said.

Advocate K R Koshti, who represented the victims, had said that several families have lost their bread-winning members, and many children and women were left to fend for themselves.

The court also noted in its order that the company has offered to take responsibility for seven children who were orphaned in the tragedy.

“They (company) will pay for education and hold their hand till they find footing in the society,” the court said.

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The bench had earlier made it clear that Oreva’s offer of compensation “will not absolve it of any liability”.

Oreva Group, led by its MD Jaysukh Patel, was responsible for the operation and maintenance of the bridge. A Special Investigation Team (SIT) formed by the state government has pointed out several lapses on the part of the firm.

Morbi police have already arrested 10 accused, including Oreva Group’s MD Jaysukh Patel, under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide), 336 (act which endangers human life), 337 (causing hurt to any person by doing any rash or negligent act) and under 338 (causing grievous hurt by doing rash or negligent act).

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