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CST renovation is caught in fund paucity tangle

Over a decade after Central Railway began working on turning the iconic Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus into a world-class station

Written by Prashant Rangnekar | Mumbai |
April 15, 2011 12:40:24 am

Over a decade after Central Railway (CR) began working on turning the iconic Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) into a world-class station,officials are now admitting that there are no funds to carry out work that was included in phase III of the project.

With a meagre annual budgetary allocation for the project — Rs 40 lakh — officials said key work on improving amenities within the World Heritage Site is pending. Also,the Railway Board is yet to sanction certain components of the restoration project’s last leg,including changing the fire-fighting system on the premises and removing incongruent structures and additions.

The restoration of the building had first kicked off in 1999-2000. After the UNESCO conferred it the tag of the World Heritage Site in 2004,results of the restoration project began to be more visible. The building,formerly known as the Victoria Terminus building,has now undergone phase I and phase II of restoration. Under these two phases,the CR undertook a thorough cleaning and waterproofing of the structure. The total cost incurred on the project was around Rs 7.25 crore in the first two phases.

Under phase III,the CR was to undertake restoration of the Victorian gothic doors and windows and change the flooring of the heritage building to return its original look. While the Railway Board sanctioned these components of phase III,it is yet to release any funds.

Under phase IV,the CR will demolish a few structures that were not part of the original design,including the third and fourth floors of the wing housing the divisional railway manager’s office. The total estimated cost for phase III and IV of the project is around Rs 5.7 crore.

“The cleaning and waterproofing is almost over and the last leg of the work,cleaning and water-proofing the structure along platform number 1,should be over by monsoon. But in phase I and II,the cost of the work has exceeded estimates by Rs 60 lakh. The annual budgetary allocation for CST building for 2011-12 is Rs 40 lakh. So,even if we look at the project we have to first clear the liability (Rs 60 lakh) and only then go ahead with new work. Even then,we are left with Rs 20 lakh to be paid to the contractors,” said a senior CR official.

The Railway Board is also yet to approve components of the final phase,involving changing the rudimentary firefighting system and removal of incongruent structures that were not the part of the original building plan. Interestingly,the CR has been pushing for approval for these components for the past two years,but to no avail.

The existing firefighting system is not up to the mark,admit officials. “We do have a fire brigade that comes within no time. But looking at the importance of the building,the firefighting system should be upgraded to avoid any untoward events,” the official added.

Built in 1888,the CST building was conferred the World Heritage Site status in 2004. The building is one of the most photographed buildings in India after the Taj Mahal in Agra.

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