CST structure needs quick damage control

Yesterday, this paper reported on its front page of how parts of the stunning Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus Railway Station building (formerly called VT) have been broken, thanks to the carelessness while demolishing a toilet block close to the structure. The report stated that the block, which was close to the section for long distance trains, was razed as it was not part of the heritage site. Yet, precious facets of the heritage building were pulled down in the process.

Today, depressingly, stunning gargoyles and other appendages of the structure lie in a heap of debris, casualties of the myopic approach of authorities who seem to have overlooked the need of advising caution to workers who were pulling down the toilet block. Central Railway officials’ blase response to this is even more shocking. He is quoted to have said that they will soon restore the broken portions, though there is no official deadline for this. Even the CR’s chief Public Relations (PR) officer Atul Rane was quoted as saying that they would look into the matter. These answers are like placebos.

This is a glaring example of how the city treats its precious and crumbling heritage with scant respect for structures and the history that they hold. The fact that an iconic building like the CST suffered such damage with the authorities claiming that the matter has not been brought to their notice shows the absolute apathy and indifference.

It is ironical that while on one hand the authorities have introduced tours for the public so that they can view the magnificent structure, they have on the other hand shown such apathy towards preserving the same, and allowed sacrilege to be committed right under their nose. Now, the least one can hope for is that restoration begins on an urgent and speedy basis and skilled artisans are employed to repair the damage and bring it back to resemble the original as closely as possible. Yet, that may be pinning our hopes too high.

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