Ever since 2004, when Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) was conferred the status of UNESCO World Heritage Site, authorities have remained careful while carrying out any physical work on the structure. So much so that they are even considering giving up the heritage tag so that they can develop CST into a world-class railway station.
Hitting the nail on the head: A worker seen driving a nail into a pillar
of CST on Saturday, while trying to support a blue-coloured cloth used to
drape parts of the structure in preparation for the Marathon
Naturally, it came as a shock when MiD DAY found workers hammering nails into the precious structure in the run-up to the Mumbai Marathon on Saturday. The nails were being used to support a blue-coloured cloth that draped not just the pandal or stage but also some pillars of the building. On January 15, dignitaries and VIPs present at the marathon stood inside the same pandal.
"Technically nails cannot be used to strengthen the draping of a cloth. Bamboos were used for tying the cloth around the pillars. We will have to check if nails were hammered into the pillars," said a Central Railway (CR) official on condition of anonymity. CR has its headquarters right inside this building. Workers at the site said they were using small nails and were doing it to give additional support to the cloth draped around the pillars.
The current controversy hasn't gone down well with heritage lovers in the city who see it as ignorant and atrocious behaviour on part of the organisers and authorities.
"It is a violation of UNESCO's norms and authorities need to take action. Even hammering the smallest of nails isn't allowed," said Prashant Kumar, activist, railway heritage.
"This is absolutely unpardonable and what they did is very wrong. Damaging such a structure even by hammering a small nail is unforgivable. These people could even be put behind bars for damaging a world heritage structure," said noted historian Sharada Dwivedi, who was also part of Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee.
"Whatever be the event, one has to be careful while dealing with such invaluable monuments," said renowned conservation architect, Vikas Dilawari.
The other side
When CR officials finally came to know about this, they immediately asked for removal of the nails. "There were four to five nails that were hammered into the pillars. They have been removed," said a CR official late on Sunday.
Meanwhile Procam International, responsible for organising the marathon, claimed innocence. "These workers work for the contractor and we are not aware of such an activity. Even we know that nails shouldn't be hammered into a heritage structure," said Bruno Goveas, director, Procam International.