Pilloried by the Opposition for its inability to prevent suicides in the Mantralaya, the Maharashtra state secretariat, the government installed safety nets inside the building as a preventive measure.
On February 8, Harshal Raote, a murder convict, had jumped to death from the fifth floor of the Mantralaya. Raote, who was out from the Paithan open prison on a furlough, was visiting the state secretariat to request lowering of his punishment.
Polypropylene nets with high tensile strength have been installed inside the 10,000-sq-ft central atrium. To start with the administration has installed first net at the level of the second floor. There are plans to instal similar nets on the fourth floor.
Many call the Mantralaya "suicide point" thanks to the number of suicides and attempted suicides taking place in and around the state's administrative headquarters.
In January, 84-year-old Dharma Manga Patil, a farmer from Dhule, had consumed poison inside the Mantralaya premises demanding fair compensation for his land acquired for a power project.
"We have already increased security checks at the entrance. Visitors are thoroughly screened before they enter the premises. But still there were apprehensions raised after the suicide last week and hence we have installed these nets," said an officer on the condition of anonymity.
But the move hasn't gone down well with the Opposition. "Government has put fencing in Mantralaya, but that's just not enough...Rather than net, the government needs to remove webs accumulated in the lives of commoners," tweeted Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, Congress politician and leader of Opposition.
State Congress president and MP Ashok Chavan too criticised the move. "If you provide jobs to unemployed youth and proper prices for agricultural produce, there will be no need to instal such