Hatkeshwar bridge: Four AEIPL directors move pre-arrest bail pleas in court

Four directors of Ajay Engi-Infrastructure Private Limited (AEIPL), the company which was awarded the contract to construct Hatkeshwar bridge, moved anticipatory bail pleas at the Ahmedabad city civil and sessions court on Thursday.

The directors have been accused by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) of cheating and criminal breach of trust in connection to the construction of the bridge, which is set to be demolished by AMC after it reported cracks within four years of its opening in 2017. The bridge has been closed to the public since last April, following four instances of it reporting damage.

According to the bail pleas, AEIPL director Ramesh Patel, along with his sons and other directors of the firm, was at Bahucharaji in Mehsana “due to prior committed social obligations” and were not at their Gandhinagar residence when on April 16, a notice was served asking him to appear before the police within 24 hours.

Rasik Patel, Ramesh’s partner and a director, has claimed that between 2015 and 2019, he was looking after the under construction Amroli bridge near Surat and had “no concern whatsoever in the affairs of construction of Hatkeshwar bridge”.

Willing to cooperate in the probe, the accused stated that AEIPL was incorporated in 2008 but since 1976, the partners had been involved in the construction of flyovers. More than 100 flyovers have been successfully constructed in Gujarat and outside the state as well, they added.

The accused said that after completion of work on November 30, 2017, the AMC issued the completion certificate (CC) for Hatkeshwar bridge on May 1, 2018.

“After five months of completion of work, the completion certificate was issued after due diligence in terms of verification and compliance of all norms…,” they alleged.

With the FIR stating that it was in March-April 2021 that AMC started noticing “grave and egregious structural defects in the structure”, the accused alleged that till then, there was smooth movement of vehicular traffic on the bridge and thus, allegations of “poor quality of concrete and improper workmanship does not merit any consideration”.

The pleas attributed to issues found in the concrete structure of the flyover to “improper maintenance” and other “scientific possibilities and probabilities and plausibilities”. Maintaining that the firm fulfilled its work obligations as per the “designs and specifications” of the AMC and the report of IIT Roorkee, the accused claimed that the “crux of the issue seems to be the design” of the bridge.

Ramesh Patel’s plea also alleged that AMC had “never questioned any aspect even during the defect period, i.e., one year from the date of completion of the project”.

Claiming innocence, the accused claimed that the case is based on “documentary evidence” and hence their custodial interrogation is not needed.


  • Adam Gray

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