Besides these preliminary technical observations, the manner in which the Oreva Group was given the contract to renovate the bridge and the quality of work executed by it have been called into question.
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“The contractor seems to have just painted and polished all the cables ahead of the bridge being reopened to the public on October 26. We haven’t found anything so far to confirm if any of those worn-out cables were changed,” said a police officer privy to the probe. “We are now looking into this aspect in detail.”
Sources said the contractor had been given time until December to complete the renovation, but the reopening was advanced to coincide with Diwali and the Gujarati New Year with an eye on festive footfall.
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The footbridge over the Machchhu river collapsed around 6.30pm Sunday, plunging most of the 400-odd people perched on the swaying suspension structure into the algae-covered river.
Suggesting that renovation, if any, was restricted to the suspended portion of the bridge, the team of engineers that searched for pointers to the collapse said the choice of materials might have played a role in making the structure vulnerable by increasing its weight. The number of people on the bridge when it collapsed far exceeded its capacity, adding to the risk of the cables snapping.
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“We are probing if the tension generated on the cables because of the increased weight of the suspended structure and the large number of people could have caused them to snap,” an official said.
Based on the primary inspection, the technical team was of the view that the renovation had been neither carried out nor assessed by someone with expertise in that field. “The work was apparently executed by local vendors and sub-contractors without any expert supervision. We are investigating if and how this was allowed,” the official said.
The initial response to the collapse of the bridge and how the evacuation was handled indicated there was no plan for an emergency, the team noted.
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