city anchor: Half-a-century later, Nehru’s loco gift triggers tug of war
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The iconic steam locomotive gifted by the country's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to National Bal Bhavan over half-a-century ago has triggered a tug of war between Northern Railway and authorities of the National Institution for Children.
National Bal Bhavan has refused to part with it after Northern Railway sent a request to return the locomotive, which is currently lying idle in an open shed.
The steam engine toy train ride was a major attraction at National Bal Bhavan until the tracks developed snags in 2006. Later in 2007, the engine was declared "irreparable".
The engine used to pull two open carriages, giving children a ride on a route that included a tunnel and a bridge on the premises.
Last year, Northern Railway donated a diesel locomotive to
National Bal Bhavan and the tracks were repaired to resume the train ride.
The steam engine is being kept on a pedestal inside a shed on the premises of National Bal Bhavan. A signboard declares the historical significance of the locomotive.
"The miniature steam locomotive is a unique piece of our heritage. It was donated to the National Bal Bhavan for children through Indian Railways. The priceless attraction is wasting.
We have requested them to return the engine because it can be repaired and revived," a senior railway official said.
Northern Railway had written to the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development in October last year to persuade National Bal Bhavan to hand over the now-defunct locomotive to the railways. However, an official claimed that the ministry ignored the request.
Northern Railway suggested that the engine could be kept at Rewari Heritage Steam Locomotive Shed. "The Rewari shed has 10 vintage steam locomotives. The shed has been recently refurbished to meet international standards. Many school students visit the place. We believe that instead of showcasing it on a plinth, it can be maintained properly in Rewari," the official said.
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