mid-day editorial: Fight for the city's heritage, not over it

Feb 26, 2018, 06:05 IST | mid-day correspondent

The tug-of-war over the UNESCO-listed World Heritage building of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) is pulling it to pieces, literally

The tug-of-war over the UNESCO-listed World Heritage building of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) is pulling it to pieces, literally.

In what can be termed as the first major damage to it in recent years, a pillar and decorative works on the main south facade broke off a day after railway employees staged a protest against the proposal to convert the structure into a world-class transport museum. Officials said that trade unions had tied banners to the pillar in question, and put up loudspeakers on it, which can be seen in numerous photographs of the protest.

This paper's front-page report on the matter has garnered huge reaction and outrage, as it rightly should. The railway authorities have blamed the protestors, while the union that organised the protest, the Central Railway Mazdoor Sangh (CRMS), said it is not responsible for the damage. In the midst of this familiar and tiresome game of ping-pong, the real issue should not be forgotten  serious damage has been done to a heritage building, and we have to think what can be done about it.

In the future, makeshift stages can be made for functions and protests, to minimise damage to infrastructure. There have to be strict rules against tying banners and equipment on pillars or any facet of these buildings. It should simply not be allowed.

A blanket ban will help, because people are apt to argue that banners or posters are very light and incapable of doing damage. The point of the matter though, is that the damage has been done. Since this is a heritage structure, it may never go back to what it used to look like. Now, it is time to do whatever little we can to fix this and, most importantly, ensure this is never repeated.

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