Daman, Nov 5 (UiTV/IANS) – The recent Morbi bridge collapse that snuffed out 141 lives comes as a grim reminder that despite losing 30 people to a similar tragedy on October 28, 2003, in Daman, no lessons were learnt.
Recalling the horrific Daman incident, Keshavbhai Batak, who had lost two sons to it, said, “The Daman tragedy will always remain the darkest day of my life as it pulled down my world in seconds. The Morbi bridge collapse brought back the black memories of the Daman tragedy. The saddest part is that the Gujarat government did not learn any lessons from it. If there is even an iota of remorse, Bhupendra Patel should step down as the Chief Minister, visit every victim’s house and apologise.”
He said after the Daman incident, the victims’ families had to wait for 19 years for justice. Despite the never-ending wait, the district sessions court judgement did not come out “satisfactory”. It was a long-drawn legal battle forcing the victim families to form the Daman Bridge Collapse Victims Committee.
When the investigation and then the trial progressed at a snail’s pace, the Victim Committee moved the Mumbai High Court. It was only after its intervention that the trial picked up pace.
Meanwhile, Dadranagar Haveli Member of Lok Sabha late Mohan Delkar had raised the issue in Parliament, and the central government constituted Mumbai High Court’s retired Justice R.J. Kochar inquiry commission. The commission’s findings was, “Distress of the retrofitting was noticed in 1997 was ‘Short of conformity’ with the best engineering practices and for the above omissions and shortcomings the commission has held the officials of the Public Works Department of the Union Territory entirely responsible.”
In August 2022, the District sessions judge court awarded two years imprisonment to three officers. Reacting to the judgement, another victim’s father Dhansukh Rathod termed it “too little, too late”. The trial should have been completed within ten years of the accident, and the guilty awarded severest of punishment. He had lost two sons Vinit (12) and Chirag (9) in the tragedy.
Batak said that the Victims Committee is going to challenge the Sessions court judgement in the Mumbai High Court.