| DEATH STRETCH: The broken railings along Zeerut Bridge. Picture by Pradip Sanyal
A breach on the bridge — another black hole of civic apathy — claimed a life early on Thursday.
Naif Ahmed, 25, died after his two-wheeler skidded off Belvedere Road, slipped through the broken railings along Zeerut Bridge and fell into Tolly’s Nullah.
After a daylong search by police and the river traffic wing, the youth’s body was fished out of the muddy Nullah around 6.30 pm, 16 hours after the accident.
Nazrul Haque, Naif’s 22-year-old friend who was riding pillion, suffered serious injuries and is under observation at SSKM Hospital.
But who was to blame for that stretch of the busy bridge being a death trap' The buck refused to stop on Thursday, as it was passed from one agency to another. No one, from the CMDA to the PWD, was willing to bear the breach burden.
“It is unfortunate that no one has come forward to take responsibility for repairing the railings so far. We still don’t know the authority responsible for repair work on the bridge leading to the zoo,” said an officer at Lalbazar.
Sanjay Mukherjee, deputy commissioner of police (headquarters), said the accident occurred around 2 am when Naif, also known as Shanu, and Nazrul were returning home to Ekbalpore on the motorcycle. “In the middle of Zeerut Bridge, the two-wheeler skidded off the road and fell through a gap,” he explained.
Drivers of taxis parked in front of Taj Bengal rushed to the accident site, only to find Nazrul lying there unconscious. They took him to SSKM Hospital, where his condition was stated to be critical.
Police launched a hunt for the motorcyclist from daybreak. Upset over the delay, a mob blocked the intersection of Belvedere Road and AJC Bose Road for nearly an hour from 12.10 pm. “The canal was slushy and so the search took long,” Mukherjee later said.
Police first contacted both the CMDA and HRBC authorities, but were told that neither department was responsible for repairs on the bridge.
“An assistant engineer (Maidan division) of the PWD later confirmed that his department looked after the bridge, but he would have to consult his superiors. But in the evening, the PWD official called up the Lalbazar control room and said the irrigation department was in charge of repairs on Zeerut Bridge,” said a Lalbazar officer.
Efforts to contact the irrigation department were on and no clear picture emerged till late on Thursday on whose bridge it was anyway.