VARANASI: Though the announcement for making important railway stations of the country into world class stations was made in the year 2009, but the project has been on the backburner ever since. Around 50 railway stations were selected for the renovation, including stations of Varanasi, Lucknow, Allahabad, Mathura, Agra Cantt, Jhansi, Gorakhpur and Kanpur.
It is noteworthy that the plan for the world class station accounted to bring the existing stations up to the international standards in terms of efficiency of operations, comfort and convenience to passengers and the stakeholders. A number of stations of Indian Railways, located at metropolitan cities and important centers were identified for development through public, private partnership (PPP) model. The modern facilities like construction of hotels and rest houses to accommodate 1,000 people, restaurants, shopping complex, modernised parking, acoustic environment, advanced ticketing, public address system and entertainment arenas were also proposed in it.
It was also expected that once the project gets completed, these stations will be vibrant centers of city commerce, entertainment and social space. When tried to take stock of the status of the project,it surfaced that the proposal of conversion of Cantonment railway station of Varanasi into a world class railway station is losing hope. According to sources, cities like Delhi and Lucknow have also not got the work started so Varanasi is lagging way behind. Former railway board chairman, Vinay Mittal had already hinted that no work for the Delhi station could be undertaken due to several problems being faced in extension of the station premises. The sources revealed that several places of worship were coming in the way of extension and similar problems are expected to surface in Varanasi and Lucknow stations.
After the announcement of this ambitious project no correspondence or official formalities for this purpose was made at Varanasi railway station so far, informed the chief area manager, Cantonment railway station, PK Saxena. However, senior divisional commercial manager (DCM), Lucknow Division, NR, AK Srivastava, said, “It is not that the plan for world class station will not be enforced, but so far there is no guideline or step taken in this regard. I am not aware of what is hindering the work on New Delhi railway station but it is definitely a difficult task to undertake massive renovation work at a fully functional railway station”. He further said that to keep up with the works related to world class railway station, an office was established in New Delhi, however, it has not under taken any significant work as of now.