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Metro Rail – Kolkata’s suicide corridor

This is an old post dated January 16 2010. The issue is still contemporary.

Rekha Haldar’s address is Ishwarinagar Road, Kona Colony, Halisahar but she works as a caregiver to an old man in Ganesh Chandra Avenue, Kolkata for last 18 years. Presently she is in the twilight zone in a free bed in Calcutta Medical College. She is the last and this year’s 2nd suicide victim in Kolkata’s under ground Metro Railways. On 9 January this year, a 33 year old woman named Tanusree Datta jumped on the track and did not need any hospital care.

Between 1988 and 2009, 184 people have attempted suicide in Metro, of whom 86 died and 98 were rescued. In 2009, there were 15 suicide attempts with 10 deaths. Five were rescued. The year before saw the same number of attempts resulting in seven deaths.

If Metro Rail is not running an euthanasia service, Calcutta’s premier transport system seems to have earned popularity with suicidal people. It remains a mystery as to why they find Metro Rail so convenient for their upward journey. May be a psychologist’s interest can shed light on these shadowy deaths.

But we can conjecture and gossip and guess.

1. Metro Rail is nice and cool.
2. Death is fast and almost 50% sure (see statistics).
3. You can disrupt many people’s schedule.
4. There is nobody to stop you.

This list can go on.

I wonder what Metro Rail Authority is doing to stop this madness. Closer introspection reveals that all the deaths are paid. You cannot enter the caverns of the Metro’s suicide friendly platforms without paying. Secondly, the white border on the platforms tells you exactly where to go to commit suicide. For over 2 decades, Metro Rail has been serving the suicidal passengers with guaranteed satisfaction.

Someone told me that the authorities are considering to install CCTVs to monitor the passengers for suspicious behavior from a control room. Impressive idea. On any given day, that’s a proposition to play hide and seek with a million commuters. I will not be surprised if suicides start to take place inside Metro Rail’s CCTV control rooms now.

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Pabitra is an Honors graduate in Civil Engineering from Jadavpur University, Kolkata. He has specialized in the field of River Hydraulics working for more than two decades training rivers, protecting banks and beaches and fighting erosion of the river banks/beds. He has worked with Bio-Engineering models involving mangroves using them as tools for cost effective and natural means of anti-erosion technology.His work is mostly concerning the extremely morpho-dynamic Hugly estuary with Bay of Bengal In course of his work, he got exposed to indigenous people of the Sunderban wetlands, who are fighting a losing battle against aggressive Industrialization. Pabitra loves to read and write and he is full of crazy ideas. He is a Youth Leader and Adviser to Climate Himalaya. He is also a contributor member of THINK ABOUT IT platform of European Journalism Center and a winner of the recently concluded competitive blogging on Water. Pabitra believes that he has a tryst with the strange river-country south of Bengal.

2 Comments

  1. Pabitra says:

    Thanks Peace. In Kolkata, we need a technology that is cheap and ingenious. I am not sure but I have a strong feeling that none of the underground railways in UK, Denmark or countries in the ‘West’ handle as many passengers as is done by Calcutta Metro.
    A laser sensor along the white border that is supposed to keep the passengers off limits from the vehicles and sounding alarm when trespassed can be good enough.
    If a passenger meddles with the service by stepping on the line, the other commuters can really convince him/her not to try that again and the learning process may also dissuade him/her to commit suicide in the first place, I guess.
    Regarding politicians, I cannot agree more

  2. peace says:

    Why don’t the foolish administration of kolkata metro install Platform screen doors (PSDs) and platform edge doors (PEDs)(Automatic platform gates )in every station like in abroad(UK ,Denmark and other countries have such systems)instead of increasing the metro route or doing other useless investments? The cost is not more than increasing the present routes? The ministers are only interested in catchy projects that help them to win votes.