A project aimed at transforming Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) into a world class station continues to be in jeopardy. International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), the advisory body to Unesco’s World Heritage Committee, has rejected the Indian Railways’ proposal for rationalisation of boundaries, and in turn, has recommended a heritage impact assessment study.
“ICOMOS has asked the Railways to resubmit the proposal with a heritage impact assessment study report for its proposal to redefine boundaries to be reconsidered,” said a railway official.
Till the time Unesco doesn’t rationalise the boundaries, Railways cannot go ahead with its plan to develop CST as a world class station.
As part of the project, the Railways planned commercial development on vacant land at Carnac Bunder near CST. For this, railway authorities needed to reduce the area classified as ‘heritage’, as redevelopment of heritage properties is banned.
Now, authorities have no option but to get a heritage impact assessment done. “As the project has been delayed for years, the Railway Board has asked CR to carry out the study as soon as possible,” the official said.
MK Gupta, CR’s chief administrative officer (construction), who is handling the project, was unavailable for comment. Manu Goel, executive director (heritage), Railway Board, did not respond to a text message query about this development.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) has demarcated a buffer zone around CST. In 2011, the CR sent the proposal to redefine the buffer zone. As per Unesco norms, any commercial development or high rises will not be permitted, as it will obstruct a clear view of the heritage site. The future of the project, therefore, remains bleak.