State, CR squabble over footing bill for CST facelift

As the iconic British-era Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus complex entered its 125th year in April, the right noises were made to make this world heritage site sightlier.

Just as has been done to other world-class architectural marvels like Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the authorities concerned wanted to adorn CST with trappings like LED lights and suchlike embellishments to appeal to tourists.

Saving glory: A sum of Rs 4 crore has been proposed to be set aside for embellishing the world heritage site. File pic

However, the furnishings come at a cost and the authorities have locked horns over sharing it: the point of contention is how much will Indian Railways spend and how much the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC).

As per the grand plan, a sum of around Rs 4 crore has been proposed to be spent on CST, one of the most capturing spots for photography enthusiasts visiting the city.

Due to the squabble between the two agencies, the Central Railway (CR) was forced to arrange temporary illumination by fitting huge colourful flashlights switched on after 7 pm.

The CR asked for funds from the MTDC for the installation. While the tourism body officials claim that they made full payment of the costs incurred, CR officials allege the payment was held back due to bureaucratic red-tape.

Sources in the CR said that the heritage structure will accrue profits in the state’s reserves, so, ideally, the state government — MTDC, in this case — should bear the entire cost. “

The Indian Railways is already facing shortage of funds. If we apply to them for funds, then it will only delay the process of getting the clearance and the necessary funds. So, we want the state to fund this project as it would help complete on time,” said a railway official on condition of anonymity.

This would include installing LED lights around the building, preening the premises, and purging the concourse and the terminal’s surrounding area of dirt and litter. Officials said the lighting would be made a permanent feature, as it is in tourist attractions across the world. These lights would change colours or point of focus depending on the time of the day.

During festivals and national holidays, the lights can be controlled to display relevant themes like the Indian flag, diyas, colourful splashes or any other artwork with lights.

The CR officials say they have had many discussions since November 2012 with the state government. But the MTDC officials maintain they have been making payments whenever required.

“The structure is Mumbai’s pride and permanent illumination would enhance its look. In fact the railways refunded money allotted earlier,” said an MTDC official on condition of anonymity.

The chief secretary too has had meetings with the two agencies in the past,” the official said. Incidentally, the Central Railway, in coordination with the department of posts will release a special cover on 125 years of CST building on May 27. 

>> The structure was designed by FW Stevens, a consulting architect for which the construction of this building started in May 1878 and completed in 1888
>> On the Queen's Jubilee Day in 1887, the building was named as Victoria Terminus
>> Later in 1996 it was renamed as CST and in 2004, UNESCO has enlisted as World Heritage Site for its architectural splendour
>> From December 2012, CST building was opened for public viewing 

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