Pedestrians crossing the iconic 75-year-old Rabindra Setu may soon receive protection from the elements, thanks to a plan by Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) to install canopies over the pavements.The port management has also floated a tender to fix nets on the railings at either end of the bridge to prevent suicides.
“We have approached IITMadras, one of our partners, to design a canopy that would protect pedestrians during the rains and also from the sun. It will have to be a special canopy that goes with the heritage structure, but is strong enough to withstand gusts of wind. The bridge can get pretty windy at times,” said KoPT chairman Vinit Kumar.
Completed in 1943, the bridge is currently used by over 200,000 pedestrians daily. There is no shade above the structure to keep people dry in case of rain. Most of those who walk across the Howrah bridge are small-time traders from the districts or people who work in the Burrabazar area. Traders often complain that since there was nothing overhead on the bridge, the goods they carry back from wholesale outlets in Burrabazar to their shops in the districts get soaked whenever there are showers.
“Kolkata Police has also discussed with us the need to prevent people from attempting suicide by jumping off the bridge. They have pointed out that the most vulnerable spots are located at either end of the structure. We have already floated a tender to fix some kind of netting above the railings at these points to prevent people from jumping off. Most don’t attempt suicide from the middle of the bridge as their attempt to cross the railing would be conspicuous. There have also been complaints that some of the covers fitted to the bases of the pillars, to prevent damage from betel leaf- and paan masala-laced spit, have become dirty. I have ordered replacements,” Kumar added.
Policemen on duty on the bridge have to maintain constant lookout for those intending to commit suicide. Earlier this year, an alert policeman thwarted a suicide attempt by a 17-year-old girl who hadn’t fared well in her Madhyamik examination.
Source: The Times Of India