Ahmedabad: A Gujarat-based electrical appliances maker Oreva group, known for its Ajanta clocks, had been in charge of maintaining the suspension bridge in Morbi for 15 years, said Sandeepsinh Zala, the chief officer of the city municipality. The death toll from the bridge collapse on Sunday evening has risen to 134, including many children, as the state government opened a criminal investigation into one of the deadliest accidents in the country in the past 10 years.
“They did not give us any information that they were reopening the bridge,” news agency Reuters quoted Zala as saying. “We have not issued any fitness certificate to them,” he added.
While Oreva is yet to issue an official statement over the incident, one of its representatives soon after the accident had reportedly claimed that the bridge collapsed as too many people in the mid-section of the bridge were trying to sway it from one way to the other.
According to the news agency PTI, Oreva specializes in CFL bulbs, wall clocks, and e-bikes, and is not known how it managed to get the contract to maintain an over 100-year-old bridge.
Founded by Odhavji Raghavji Patel almost 50 years back, the company produces wall clocks under the popular Ajanta and Orpat brands. Patel, who died earlier this month at the age of 88 years, was a science teacher at school before turning an entrepreneur at the age of 45 years in 1971.
With a turnover of almost ₹800 crores, Ajanta Manufacturing Pvt Ltd is also present in business segments including lighting products, battery-operated bikes, home appliances, electrical accessories, and electronic items such as telephones, calculators, and LED TVs among others.
It is claimed that the bridge was opened without a fitness certificate.
In its profile on its website, the Oreva group claims that it employs over 6,000 people but has no mention of its construction business. The Oreva Group operates one of the largest manufacturing plants in India at Samakhiyali, Kutch District, Gujarat, which is spread over 200 acres of land.