Mumbai: Railway unions on Monday welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reported turning down of the Railway Ministry’s proposal to convert the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus into a museum.
“Staff and officers working in the building are jubilant. They are thanking the PM for reversing the decision of the Railway Minister,” Central Railway Mazdoor Sangh (CRMS) president R.P. Bhatnagar said. “The PM reiterated our point that so much money should not be spent to create a museum when the Railways is already in a financial crisis,” he said.
The CRMS had held a rally and its members had even gone on a relay hunger strike for 28 days to protest the move.
Venu Nair, general secretary, National Railway Mazdoor Union (NRMU), said they will wait for an order from the Railways. “There is currently a written order to turn the station into a museum. We hope the Railway Minister respects the PM’s remarks and reverses the order,” Mr. Nair said.
Mr. Nair said the NRMU opposed the move a day after the announcement, which would have turned the building into a pigeon house and affected over 500 employees.
“Central Railway employees have been working here for 120 years. Issues like renovating railway staff quarters, which are unsafe for living, need attention,” Mr. Bhatnager said.
Railway Minister Piyush Goyal had in November 2017 announced the plan to convert the station into a world class museum. The Central Railway even began looking for an alternative office space. While the initial proposal was to convert the entire structure, it was later decided that only the ground and first floors will be made a museum. The Railway Board also made a provision of ₹25 crore for the project in the 2018-19 budget.