Unnerved by the spate of suicide attempts and a death after a man jumped off the Mantralaya last week, the Maharashtra government on Monday spread a safety net in its headquarters to prevent any more such fatal bids, officials said.
The safety net has come up on the second floor of the building's main lobby, which was the scene of suicide by a murder convict on parole, who jumped to his death last Thursday.
The safety net is similar to the one seen at construction sites of skyscrapers or even the ones used by trapeze artistes to prevent an accidental fall in circus performances. Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Council, Dhananjay Munder of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), grabbed the opportunity to poke fun at the government initiative by asking whether "Mantralaya has now become a circus ground".
"It's a good initiative, but the government should take preventive measures to eradicate the root cause of suicide attempts in Mantralaya," Munde said in a backhanded compliment. The net is the first among various security options being contemplated at the highest levels to prevent suicide attempts inside the high-security zone in south Mumbai's Nariman Point.
In fact, in the past few weeks, the government was rocked by at least three suicide attempts in which two persons lost their lives. The opposition Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) jeered at the embarrassed Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena government by dubbing Mantralaya as a "suicide point".
The suicide attempts and the deaths came despite stringent security and screening measures implemented at all the entry points in Mantralaya. Now, the government is planning to to permanently shut or barricade some windows on the top floors, erect tough grills at windows to prevent people from climbing onto the parapet walls and even restrict access to some areas like the topmost floors or the terraces in the building. Even the huge daily inflow of visitors may be curbed by plans to set up a special desk outside the main building for people wanting casual access only to submit letters, memoranda or such work, without needing to actually meet ministers or bureaucrats concerned, an official added.