UNESCO until now was deliberating plans of converting CST into a state-of-the-art railway station; will meet officials next year to converse their intentions
Central Railway (CR) officials are eagerly waiting for February. In two months time, the fate of world heritage structure Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) will be decided.
The CST station is one of 936 heritage structures in the world
CR authorities are scheduled to have talks with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), wherein they will confer requisite pending permissions requested by CR for transforming CST into a world-class station.
In an article ('Heritage tag coming in the way of renovation') published in MiD DAY, it was reported that CR authorities don't mind giving up the prestigious world heritage tag in order to get clearances for transforming CST into a foremost station.
Officials from CR are of the view that stringent rules laid down by UNESCO for maintaining a world heritage building impede the freedom to undertake development or renovation works.
Sources in CR said that UNESCO, who till now was deliberating the outlines for converting CST into a world class station, would now discuss the plan of action with the Railway Board, where presently the proposal is lying.
"We will be meeting UNESCO officials to discuss and finalise the future course of converting CST into a modern station. Unless the rules of buffer zones aren't revised and diluted, it would be difficult for us to go ahead with the project," said a senior CR official on condition of anonymity.
Recognised as a world heritage structure in July 2004, CST was divided into two buffer zones that restrict construction and renovation around it. "Unless the restrictions to be followed by a world heritage structure aren't abridged, it will be difficult for us to bring about any concrete change," said another senior CR official.
CR General Manager Subodh Jain had stated that they were ready with the basic master plan necessary to execute the project. As per the Rs 1,800 crore renovation plan, peripheries under Buffer Zone I would be made into a pedestrian zone after shifting the taxi stand and other amenities and offices to the basement.
It also includes adding more platforms. While under Buffer Zone II, as per UNESCO guidelines, any high-rise development that obstructs the view of the site from a distance should be avoided.
Sources also informed that the proposed master plan envisages a multi-storey luxury hotel, eight commercial buildings and another 20-storey commercial complex replacing the current set-up on the CST premises.
An underground subway at the main entrance next to the new station building is also part of the blueprint.
After the Railway Ministry identified CST, used by 30 lakh commuters daily, to become one of the first stations to undergo a makeover a few years ago, CR officials are of the view that its heritage status has for long been a hurdle in improving its precincts with a hub of high-rises and facilities.
The bustling CST station is one of the 936 structures in the world and 28 in India that features on the UNESCO list of world-class heritage sites.
Presently the international body is studying the prospects of the dilution of buffer zones demanded by the railway authorities for the Rs 1,800 crore facelift for transforming it into a world-class station. Soon, it will discuss the plan of action with the Railway Board.
Rs 1,800 cr
The amount of money that will be spent to transform the CST into a world-class railway station