Mumbai: Railway union objects to plan to vacate CSMT building for museum

Updated: Dec 21, 2017, 10:36 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar | Mumbai

Railway unions object to the plan to vacate CSMT and turn it into a museum

''If you convert all old heritage buildings into museums, then by that standard, all of Europe and half of south Mumbai would be a museum.' It is with this logic that railway unions are now protesting Railway Minister Piyush Goyal's decision to vacate the Central Railway (CR) headquarters at CSMT to turn the iconic building into a museum. mid-day had first broken the story about this move on December 2, highlighting how 400 employees would have to be shifted from the current HQ at the terminus.

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Various protests
The decision met with protests from various quarters, including Diana Robertson, the fourth-generation descendant of CSMT's architect FW Stevens, as reported in an exclusive interview on December 7. This week, railway unions in Mumbai too joined hands to protest against the move. A strongly worded letter by General Secretary of National Railway Mazdoor Union stated: "It cannot be anyone's case to begin to convert every old building into a museum, as and when it acquires heritage status. By this yardstick, nearly all of Europe, the city of Washington DC, and indeed, Lutyens Delhi and half of south Mumbai would have nothing but museums."

Don't move employees out
The railway unions emphasised that they have no issue if the authorities choose to dedicate a portion of CSMT to a transport museum and that their real objection is to giving up the entire building. Congress-affiliated Central Railway Mazdoor Sangh (CRMS), which has put up protest boards at CSMT, echoed the same sentiments.
"Moving employees out of the building will be a disaster. It can also affect train operations, as the operations team cannot sit away from the train station. We will oppose every move to shift employees out of this building," said Praveen Bajpai, CRMS general secretary.

The National Federation of Indian Railwaymen also questioned Goyal's order. Dr M Raghavaiah, general secretary of the association, said, "A conservative estimate of the financial burden of moving the headquarters out of CSMT would be Rs 1,500 crore. It would be unfair to make this unnecessary expense when the railways are running into losses." Despite repeated attempts to contact railway officials, they refused to comment.

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