Railway minister Suresh Prabhu’s plan to install a grand Chhattrapati Shivaji statue at the sprawling CST terminus threatens to break one of the railway’s oldest and best-enforced rules.The Land and Amenities Directorate of the railway ministry, in several circulars over the past five decades, has reiterated the railway’s avowed stand that stations are not the appropriate place for statues of national leaders.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>For one, officials said, in a diverse nation like India, the demand for statues of leaders, historical and mythological figures can be unending.The cornerstone of this policy was a letter written on April 18, 1961, by then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru to then railway minister Jagjivan Ram, in which Nehru states: “I am inclined to think that it will not be a good thing to put up these statues at railway stations’.The letter was written by Nehru after some members of Parliament asked a question about the need to install statues of Mahatma Gandhi at railway stations.According to officials, the statue decision is a pandora’s box yet not opened. “A statue of any personality comes with its own sensitivity and historical baggage among the personality’s followers. Soon it becomes an article of faith which cannot be tinkered with.”Every railway station is a dynamic work of engineering which has to be redeveloped, rebuilt every 30-40 years, depending on the passenger-and-train details of the station. You cannot have a situation where the station’s redevelopment has to be compromised because a statue coming in the way cannot be touched. It can even lead to a law-and-order issue,” explained an official.
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