MUMBAI: The Railway Ministry's plan to convert the 130-year-old Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) building in south Mumbai, into a museum, has run into a controversy with architects and rail employees raising objections over the move.
While the architects say it is "difficult" and "impractical" to turn this iconic complex, the administrative headquarters of the Central Railway (CR), into a museum, the railway unions say relocation will cause inconvenience to the employees currently working there.
Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, during his visit to the CSMT in November last year, had announced to convert this busy train terminus into a "world-class museum".
Yesterday, the railway authorities invited expression of interest (EoI) to develop the museum and also formed an advisory board to execute the plan.
As per the directions of the Under secretary (Establishment) of the Railway Board, the advisory board will be chaired by the General Manager of CR and comprise five other members, who will "conceptualise, finalise and recommend" the plan for the proposed museum.
Conservation architect Vikas Dilawari expressed his reservations over the project saying, "A museum requires many things like a narrative, a storyline. It also requires a curatorial team for the display of collection."
"The CSMT is roughly as huge as the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS) museum (also in South Mumbai). So it's not so easy to convert it into a museum. The CSMT was designed for a different purpose," he added.
The railway employees are also up in arms against the proposal.
Central Railway Mazdoor Sangh (CRMS), a recognised rail union of CR employees, had recently held a protest against the move at the headquarters and vowed to continue doing it till the ministry withdraws its plan.
"This building is a matter of pride not just for the CR, but for the Indian Railways and the country. The railway minister's plan to convert the grand building into a museum would damage its grandeur. Employees will suffer as they have to move out from here. We will oppose the plan at any cost," Pravin Bajpai, general secretary of CRMS said.