Morbi Bridge Collapsed due to Corroded Wires and Welded Suspenders, Says SIT Probe Report

Morbi: Gujarat government-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) has found in its preliminary probe that corrosion on nearly half of the wires on a cable and welding of old suspenders with new ones were some of the major faults that led to the collapse of the suspension bridge in Morbi last year in which 135 people were killed. These findings are part of the ‘Preliminary Report on Morbi Bridge Incident’ submitted by the five-member SIT in December 2022. The report was recently shared with the Morbi Municipality by the state Urban Development Department. Ajanta Manufacturing Limited (Oreva Group) was responsible for the operation and maintenance of the British-era suspension bridge on the Machchu river that collapsed on October 30 last year. The SIT had found several lapses in repairs, maintenance and operation of the bridge.

IAS officer Rajkumar Beniwal, IPS officer Subhash Trivedi, a secretary and a chief engineer from the state Roads and Building Department and a professor of structural engineering were members of the SIT.

The SIT noted that of the two main cables of the bridge, built by the erstwhile rulers in 1887 over river Machchhu, one cable was having issues of corrosion and nearly half of its wires “may be already broken” even before the cable snapped on October 30 evening.

According to the SIT, the main cable on the upstream side of the river snapped, leading to the tragedy. Each cable was formed by seven strands, each comprising seven steel wires. Total 49 wires were clubbed together in seven strands to form this cable, the SIT report said.

“It was observed that out of the 49 wires (of that cable), 22 were corroded, which indicates that those wires may have already broken before the incident. The remaining 27 wires recently broke,” the SIT said in its report.

The SIT also found that during the renovation work, “old suspenders (steel rods which connect the cable with the platform deck) were welded with the new suspenders. Hence the behaviour of suspenders changed. In these types of bridges, single rod suspenders should be used to bear the load”.

Notably, the Morbi Municipality, without the approval of the general board, had awarded the contract to maintain and operate the bridge to Oreva Group (Ajanta Manufacturing Limited), which had closed the bridge in March 2022 for renovation and opened it on October 26 without any prior approval or inspection.