Spanning over an area of about 3000 sq m, the subway outside Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) is slated to undergo major renovation in the coming months.
The subway serves as a a vital underground link for commuters from the Central and Harbour lines to major locations in Fort such as D N Road and Mahapallika Marg.
Since its construction in 1999, the passageway has been regularly criticised and avoided by pedestrians because of the unhygienic conditions due to poor lighting and ventilation.
Its transparent, brown polycarbonate funnels, introduced to reflect the Indo-Saracenic architecture of D N Road-Fort area, have now turned black and are increasingly being viewed as an eyesore.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), as part of its initiative to revamp bridges and subways across the city, is now set to repair and renovate the subway. For the work, the corporation has expanded its budget to one third of its construction cost at Rs 2-3 crore.
“The issue with the subway has been that its construction is a visual intrusion for the heritage buildings in the area, particularly the CST building and the BMC headquarters. Previously, the plan was to merely repair and carry out basic renovations but now, we have enlarged the scope keep in view the nature of architecture that it surrounds,” said Additional Municipal Commissioner S V R Srinivas, in-charge of the bridges department.
“We are also looking at its functionality and the facilities we can offer pedestrians here. The new designs make way for better lighting and ventilation in the subway, which is currently quite dark and claustrophobic,” Srinivas added.
When the idea to overhaul the subway was first floated in 2009, architect Ratan Bhalwankar was roped in to design the structure and its aesthetic. The plans were, however, relegated to cold storage and have only now been revived.
“We recently asked the architects to resubmit the designs and have made some improvements on the features for lighting and ventilation. Our aim is to beautify both the exterior and interior. Once the plans are finalised, we will approach the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee for a no-objection certificate,” said S O Kori, chief engineer of bridges department.
The proposed designs include replacing the funnels and exhaust shafts with a structure with decorative tiles and arches. The entry and exit points for the subway will be revamped to include sculpted arches and pillars. The traffic divider for D N Road has also been redesigned and proposes to incorporate an intricately carved metal railing to prevent jaywalking.