Only 2 floors of iconic CSMT building to be converted into museum as Railways revises plan

Only 2 floors of iconic CSMT building to be converted into museum as Railways revises plan
The CSMT building was accorded the World Heritage Site tag from UNESCO in 2004 (Picture: The City Pictures)

Indian Railways has revised its earlier decision to convert the entire Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) building into a museum and instead opted to convert only the ground and first floors for the ambitious project.

The second floor of the iconic CSMT building, earlier called Victoria Terminus, will remain intact and continue to house the offices of senior officials and the General Manager of Central Railway.

Designed by British architect Frederick William Stevens, the 129-year-old building serves as the headquarters of Central Railway.

The state-run transporter had earlier moved a proposal to shift the headquarters to another place in the city and convert the iconic CSMT building, which is Mumbai’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site, into a state-of-the-art museum.

The Mumbai chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), which was tasked with preparing the report, had however listed several hurdles, including seeking UNESCO and Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC) nod for the museum project.

“UNESCO has become very strict about interventions to World Heritage Sites. First and foremost, it is important to write to UNESCO, apprising them of the intention to convert the site into a museum,” INTACH’s Mumbai chapter said in its report.

The move is also facing resistance from Railways’ top brass as a section is not in favour of moving the CR HQ as the project would cost the cash-starved public transporter about Rs 153 crore, Rs 68 crore for the museum and Rs 85 crore for the new headquarters.

Apart from UNESCO and MHCC permissions, railway unions have also raised the red flag to the project, opposing vehemently the idea of shifting from the building, which got the World Heritage Site tag in 2004.

“The second floor of the building will not be vacated and will function as usual with the office as per the latest decision,” a senior Railway Ministry official familiar with the development told IANS.

However, the official said that the Railways will still seek UNESCO and MHCC clearance for converting the ground and first floors into a museum.

Any move on the project without the nod from UNESCO would mean the building would lose its World Heritage Site tag.

The century-old building houses around 400 CR employees and is under by approximately 30 lakh commuters every day.

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