Shiv Sena MP charges at CR top boss over Shivaji statue being installed near the CSMT

Updated: Dec 14, 2017, 18:25 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar

While a new sculpture of Shivaji is likely to be installed at CSMT, the Shiv Sena MP argued that it's 'placement' plan was wrong as the statue is expected to be installed near platform no 18

If BMC chairman Phirozshah Mehta's statue can be placed in front of the civic body's headquarters, then Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj's statue deserves to be placed front and centre outside the CSMT. Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant picked up a fight over the issue with the general manager of Central Railway DK Sharma yesterday, saying, "It is ironic not to have a statue of the warrior king at CSMT after whom the station is named." While a new sculpture of Shivaji is likely to be installed at CSMT, the Sena MP argued that it's "placement" plan was wrong as the statue is expected to be installed near platform no 18.

Arvind Sawant, Rajen Gohain and DK Sharma during the press meet yesterday

According to sources, Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain had to intervene to prevent a bigger showdown. Even as Gohain tried to pacify the MP saying that the gate near platform 18 was also one of the main entry points of the station, Sawant said, "Now that the railways finally plans to place a statue at the CSMT, they will be relegating it to the corner of the station, between platform no 18 and P D'Mello Road. Hardly anyone goes near that gate."

Announcing Sena's plans to protest the statue's placement, Sawant said, "We demand that the Shivaji statue be placed in the middle of the heritage garden of the Central Railway. If that's not done, we will launch protests."

Asked whether it would be fair to tamper with the UNESCO-listed heritage building, he said, "We are not tampering with the building in any way. All we want is the statue to be placed in front of the building. Isn't the BMC building a heritage structure? They too have Phirozshah Mehta's statue installed in front of it. Why should Shivaji be relegated to a corner?" Why place Shivaji's statue in the rear?

Heritage buffer zone
Heritage activists state that under the UNESCO World Heritage guidelines, there ought to be minimal interventions and changes in the main structure and in the buffer zone around the structure.

The railway board itself has a set of circulars, dated April 1970, November 2001 and Februray 2003, prohibiting installation of statues of national heroes/leaders on station premises.

Meanwhile, local railway officials have refused to comment on the issue and said that the design of the fort wall along with the statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji for platform 18 was ready.

The proposed layout of the Shivaji fort within the CSMT premises

The Shivaji fort plan
In February 2016, the JJ School of Art had given a presentation on the proposed façade of platform 18 where the replicas of seven forts were likely to be built. The façade would be similar to the shapes of forts, namely Raigad, Panhala, Sinhgad, Shivneri, Rajgad, Bhulkot and Janjira. Officials had said that they would be utilising the 100x600 yard area next to platform 18 of CSMT, which is parallel to P D'Mello Road.

Meanwhile, the Shiv Sena also requested that Mumbai Central station be renamed Jagannath Sunkersett, after one of the first directors of India's first railway company, who gave his house to be used as a railway office to encourage the arrival of railways in India.

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