Railway union rejoice after Narendra Modi scraps plan to convert CSTM into museum

Apr 10, 2018, 09:49 IST | Rajendra B. Aklekar

Railway union breaks into song and dance after learning about PM Narendra Modi reportedly scrapping Piyush Goyal's plans of converting the CSMT headquarters into a museum

CSMT headquarters

This Monday was not full of blues for members of the Central Railway Mazdoor Sangh (CRMS). They took out a victory procession and distributed sweets to celebrate the Prime Minister Narendra Modi reportedly scrapping railway minister Piyush Goyal's controversial project of turning the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) into a transport museum. CRMS has been opposing the museum project tooth and nail and had staged a sit-in march for 21 days in protest, followed by a 'hunger to death' strike.

Were given assurance
However, they were in a celebratory mood yesterday, when they took out a march in the compound of the heritage wing of the building replete with song, dance and speeches."This is our victory. The railway minister's rubbish plans have been rubbished," said a proud Rajendra Bhatnagar, president, CRMS, adding, "We met officers at New Delhi and made our point on how bad an idea it was. Only after we were given an assurance [of the plan being scrapped] did we agree to stop the agitation."

Cautious comments
Railway officials in Mumbai were cautious while commenting. "Nothing has come on paper yet to the zonal railway. The PM has possibly expressed certain reservations about the plan. Maybe it will be changed or come in some other form. As of now, there is no clarity or communication. As it is the project was being implemented by RITES, a railway engineering consultancy firm in Haryana; the Central Railway was just facilitating them," a senior official said.

The project attracted 14 bidders and the winning party had been asked to submit a comprehensive plan on how they intended to proceed with the museum. "It was a complete waste of money and we had vowed not to allow this to happen. We had said we will stop it at any cost," said Pravin Bajpayee, CRMS general secretary.

He added, "There is no money with the railways for basic amenities of employees. This was a very unfair and an unbiased decision. We had vowed to create hurdles for it at every level. It is good that the railways have withdrawn the decision to convert the heritage building into a museum." The railways had drawn up a budget of R41 crore to relocate the existing staff to other buildings. This year's railway budget had even allocated R25 crore to start the process.

After months of protests
mid-day had first broken the story on December 2, 2017 in the front-page report 'CSMT offices make way for rail museum,' about the railways beginning the process of vacating the offices in the building and issuing ads looking for office space following Goyal's orders to convert the terminus into the museum. There were protests from all quarters, including from the great great great grandaughter of the building's architect FW Stevens, which mid-day carried on December 7, 2017 in the front-page report, 'It'll be a shame if CSMT is turned into a museum.' However, regardless of the protests, the plan did succeed, even if for a while. mid-day reported about the same on March 10 in, 'Plan for CSMT museum chugs full steam ahead.'

Also read: Mumbai: Geometrical staircases at CST headquarters crumbling from neglect

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