The move to conduct a survey to identify the locations was carried out by the officers posted at Bally Police station in Howrah, under whose jurisdiction a part of the bridge falls, after being directed by Vaishali Dalmiya, MLA from Bally Assembly constituency.
Dalmiya said: “Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has directed me take all necessary steps to give a new face to Bally. So, besides taking all necessary steps to bring an overall development of the area, initiative is also required to check incidents of suicides by jumping into river Hooghly from the bridge.”
She asked officers of the Bally police station to look into the matter after a recent incident of suicide attempt. The concerned policemen have prepared a report, marking certain locations on the bridge as ‘suicide points’, and handed over the report to Dalmiya on Tuesday.
As per the findings of the report, if a person jumps from these ‘suicide points’, he or she will fall in to the river where there is a constant whirling in the water. There were several incidents in which local boatmen and police personnel had saved the persons who attempted suicide as they had not jumped from any such points. But the task of the police in saving a person becomes difficult when one falls into those areas in the river that have constant whirling, as bodies are swept away within seconds due to high current.
Though the police are yet to come up with a justification why people attempting suicide chose these spots, they feel that one makes a recce of the place before jumping into the river to take their own lives.
A portion of the bridge also falls under the jurisdiction of Belgharia police station. Hence, a joint effort is needed between the Bally and Belgharia police station to tackle the problem. “I will compile a report after visiting the place and speaking to other stake holders involved. Subsequently, there will be an approach to the concerned department of our Mamata Banerjee-led state government, with a request to take up all necessary steps including setting up high railings at such suicide points on both sides of the bridge if needed,” Dalmiya said, adding that repair work on a flank of the bridge is going on at present and steps will be taken so that the work required to check suicides can be done at the same time.
The Public Works Department (PWD) has undertaken the repair work of the flank, through which vehicles heading towards Dakshineswar travel. Other initiatives like sufficient illumination and putting up of sign boards on the railings of the bridge to discourage people from taking such drastic steps would also be taken up. It may be mentioned that three such incidents have taken place in the last two months. Police had saved one of the persons, while bodies of the other two were fished out later.
According to a police officer, more incidents of suicide were reported from Bally Bridge compared to that on Howrah Bridge and Vidyasagar Setu. The reason being pedestrians cannot move onto the Vidyasagar Setu, while Howrah Bridge remains congested most of the time with thousands of people walking on the footpaths at a time and at night policemen on motorbikes immediately approach a person if found waiting on the bridge. But in the case of Bally Bridge, the pavements are not too congested and it is easy to walk up to the centre of the bridge.