The plan to help New Delhi railway station meet international standards is facing a new roadblock.
Thirteen religious structures — eight temples and five mosques — within the station premises, most of them on platforms, are making it difficult for railway engineers to create a new design for the platforms and concourse area.
The railways have extended an olive branch to heads of these structures by promising them land away from the station. But the caretakers of these structures claim that they are of historical importance, as most of them are more than 200 years old.
The railways, however, claimed that this was not so. “It has been found in our inspection that these structures are not more than 30 to 40 years old,” said a senior railway officer, adding, “The passenger burden on us has risen unexpectedly. The mosque on platform two-three and the temple on platform six-seven need to be relocated immediately.”
The Vishwakarma temple on the Paharganj side, that its caretaker claims is more than 400 years old, has limited the concourse area of the station. “The temple is older than the station. Relocating the temple will invite trouble for the railways,” said Bhagwan Sahay, a member of the temple committee.
The New Delhi station handles more than seven lakh passengers and over 250 trains daily. Four platforms — two-three and six-seven — are not being utilised fully because of the religious structures.
“All these years, we’ve been altering designs to provide space for these structures. Now, it has become inevitable for the railways to relocate them. We are in talks with their religious heads, but chances of their shifting are bleak,” the officer added.