The Supreme Court on Friday asked a petitioner, seeking probe into alleged negligence in the collapse of a British-era bridge on Mumbai-Goa highway during heavy rains on August 2 claiming 22 lives, to raise it before the Bombay High Court.
A bench of Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justice A M Khanwilkar directed the petitioner to approach the High Court with the PIL which seeks direction for “investigation into corruption involved in maintenance of the bridge”.
The plea filed by Pranay Baliram Sawant through advocate R D Upadhaya has also urged the apex court to issue directions for disciplinary action against “corrupt officials responsible for conducting false/fake audit and thereby filing misleading report.”
It also sought a direction to the state government to produce documentary records of audit of expenses incurred in maintaining the bridge in Raigad district of Konkan area in Maharashtra.
The PIL has alleged that “the bridge on the Mumbai-Goa highway linking Mahad and Poladpur collapsed in Raigad district in Konkan during heavy rains leading to mass murder of innocent people which did not occur due to rain but due to complete negligence of state machinery in not utilising the funds in safety and maintenance of the bridge.”
“That as per the audit report of May 2016, the collapsed bridge has been declared to be fit and if the records of fitness are not called and investigation in depth not carried out, then other bridges of British era all over the country are also at the risk of collapse,” the plea said citing an example of collapse of a 44-year-old bridge in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh.
Two buses had been swept away in the swollen Savitri River after the bridge collapsed on August 2 around midnight in Raigad district around 170 Km from Mumbai.
The plea alleged that state government authorities have been maintaining the bridge only on paper but not in the real sense which led to its collapse.
Had the government officers responsible for safety and maintenance of the collapsed bridge put up any sign over the bridge before the entry/exit points, several innocent lives could have been saved.