HC stops railways from razing Royapuram stn
The 160-year-old Royapuram Railway Station, a schedule-I notified heritage structure, is a protected building and in case railways wants to expand the 72-acre station premises in future it could be done without affecting the heritage part, the Madras high court has said.
An order to this effect was passed by the first bench of Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice R Mahadevan on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by advocate S Sathia Chandran who wanted the court to stop the Tamil Nadu government and the state heritage conservation committee from deleting Royapuram Railway Station from the list of heritage buildings.
The PIL was filed in view of the Southern Railway move to expand the railway station. The railways had submitted a request to the state heritage conservation committee, asking it to remove the heritage structure from the list of protected monuments in the state.
“At present, the building stands enlisted at serial no 26 in the list of heritage buildings as per the notification already issued. Thus, there is a protection to the building. As to what would happen in future, we cannot guess. But suffice to say that there is a mandate prohibitory against the railways at present. We may suggest that if railways wants to expand the station, such expansion is always possible even while preserving the heritage portion,“ said the bench.
Sathia Chandran wanted the high court to direct the state housing secretary, the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) and the Heritage Conservation Committee not to delete the station from the list of heritage buildings in phase-I prepared by CMDA and the heritage conservation committee as per orders of the high court.
He also wanted the court to restrain the Southern Railway general manager, his men, servants, agents or anybody claiming through or under him from developing or redeveloping or carrying out engineering operation or additions, alterations, repairs, renovations, including the painting of the building, replacement of special features or demo lition of the whole or any part thereof or plastering of the listed heritage building.
The state government notified a Heritage Conservation Committee on April 1, 2010, after the high court by its order dated December 19, 2009 directed the government to form the committee within three months.
CMDA enumerated around 350 structures from which 66 have been shortlisted for identifying them as heritage structures in phase-I.
In the list, Royapuram Railway Station has been listed at serial no 26 and the structures have been classified as Grade-I.
If the request by Southern Railway is acceded to by the state government, it would sound the death knell for the conservation of the heritage structures in Chennai, causing immense loss to the country’s heritage structures, said Sathia Chandran.
dinathanthi newspaper 10/07/2016 : http://www.dinathanthiepaper.in/firstpage.aspx