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Sunday, 29 January 2012

UNESCO to decide on CST modernisation next month

UNESCO to decide on CST modernisation
by Shalini Nair : Mumbai, Sun Jan 29 2012, 02:10 hrs

The fate of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) modernisation proposal will be decided at the next meeting of the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in Paris in February.
Officials from Central Railway said they have submitted a proposal asking for the panel’s permission to reduce the buffer zone around the listed World heritage site of CST to 70 per cent of its existing area.

CST is the only railway terminus in the world to enjoy this prestigious tag, which was conferred upon it in July 2004. The Indo-Sarcenic CST building and the three buffer zones — an area where construction is restricted to protect the heritage value of the site — are spread over an area of 90 hectares.

The railway’s plan for CST modernisation involves roping in a private developer to carry out the work and in return allowing him to commercially exploit 9.6 hectares of vacant railway land on the eastern side of the precinct.

However, this land falls in buffer zone 2, which as per the commitment made before UNESCO, is supposed to “avoid commercial, high rise development that shall congest the area, or obstruct or distract the view of CST from a distance or any location and as a result be potential threat to the CST.”

Also, the land itself was proposed to be landscaped and maintained as an public open space.

Following a request made by the Central Railway that the modernisation won’t be financially viable unless done through private participation, the Railway board in Delhi has now submitted a modified proposal to the UNESCO panel.

“Two days ago a proposal was sent to the UNESCO panel for its sanction to reduce a third of the area on the P D’Mello side of the buffer zone. The CST building is not visible from that side of the road,” said a senior official from the Central Railway, adding that the boundary modification won’t affect the heritage value of the precinct in any way.

In the event of UNESCO panel approving the redrawn contours around the Victorian Gothic revival CST building, the railways will launch its project of restoration of the structure, upgradation of passenger facilities and pedestrianisation of the vicinity.

Accordingly a developer, will construct platforms, create underground parking and connect CST to the proposed Metro rail.

The developer will also have to construct a 8,400 sq m two-level underground subway, underneath the existing taxi stand, for housing passenger amenities such as information desk, ATMs, supermarket, waiting lounges, luggage rooms, rest rooms, food stalls, pharmacy, beauty salons, book shops and conference rooms.

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