CR to abandon project if buffer zone application is turned down
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Though the Railway Board has approved the transformation of Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) into a world-class station, the project will see the light of day only if UNESCO clears it, with the Central Railway (CR) now stating that if the application to dilute the buffer zone around the site is rejected, it is likely to abandon the project.
The Railways require UNESCO permission for the revamp owing to its status as a World Heritage Site since 2004. Following this, the area around the terminus was divided into two buffer zones wherein construction and renovation work would be restricted — a major hurdle for the Rs 1,800-crore project.
On Friday, Chairman of the Railway Board Vinay Mittal held a meeting with CR General Manager Subodh Jain and other officials, who said they are confident of getting UNESCO approval. "But due to some reason if they do not dilute the buffer zone and refuse approval, the Railways will dump the project," said a highly placed official.
Unless the rules regarding construction in the buffer zones are revised, it would be difficult for CR to go ahead with the project. "There will be no station building at Carnac Bunder, no remodelling of the yard there for expansion of operations. Also, no additional coaches will be added to outstation trains and no 15-car rakes on the suburban section," the official said. The only option would be for the CR to run most outstation trains from Lokmanya Tilak Terminus, said sources.
Earlier, the heritage conservation committee of Mumbai objected to a master plan prepared by CR. After some modifications, the plan was sent to UNESCO. "A committee under UNESCO examined it recently. However, some private parties have raised objections. While UNESCO has not sent a reply to the Railways yet, it may raise some queries," the official added. "The new plan was approved after many changes. The plan for commercial exploitation between the two railway yards has been removed," he said.
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