Union Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal recently inaugurated the air-conditioned dormitory at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST). Though the new dorm itself is comfortable, passengers say, it doesn’t have a proper staircase leading to it and the only lift that leads directly to the dorm is out-of-order. The situation raises concerns for commuters’ safety in times of hazards like when there is a fire.
The dorm, which is on the third floor of the main building at CST, was inaugurated by Bansal on April 16. Only one lift goes to the third floor, which isn’t working. The staircase from the ground floor leads up to the second floor, after which commuters have to look hard for the steep, narrow flight of stairs leading up to the third floor from the corner of a cafeteria on the second floor.
There is a section of the dorm reserved for women, and another for men. “We know that the lifts should have been in working condition before inaugurating the dormitory but we should be thankful that the work on the dorm has been done. We are in the process of repairing the one lift that is not working,” said a senior official from Central Railway.
The building has a staircase only till the second floor. “The inauguration was delayed for about three months because of the lifts. Reluctant to cause more delay, we inaugurated the dorm,” said the official. The place where the dormitory was housed earlier had a kitchen to cook non-vegetarian food. The work on the dorm started in December 2012 and cost Rs 55 lakh. It has 78 beds, 58 for men and 20 for women. The charges for the dormitory are Rs 150 for 12 hours and Rs 250 for 24 hours.
Officials say there is a staircase in the corner of the second floor that does not go directly to the dorm. When MiD DAY went to inspect the staircase officials were talking about, we found that part of the staircase was full of garbage and the lift was not working. Also the narrow staircase on the second floor connecting to the third floor is hard to find but there is no signboard pointing to it. It is very narrow and cannot even accommodate luggage. It’s dangerous for emergencies like a fire breakout.
Madhu Kotian, president of Mumbai Rail Pravasi Sangh, said, “The railways should build a staircase soon, since passengers using the dormitory will not be from Mumbai. This is especially important in case of emergencies.”
Mukesh Nigam, divisional railway manager, CR, said, “We have followed all the mandatory rules before inaugurating the dormitory. Within a month’s time, other lifts will also go up to the third floor after repairs.”