75 busiest Railway Stations will install 100-ft tall Tricolor National Flag

Seven Mumbai stations among those that will spend around Rs.9 lakh each to install the national flag; deadline for the project is Dec 31.

MUMBAI: On the lines of the national anthem being played at cinema halls, the government has directed 75 busiest railway stations in the country to install the national flag on their premises.

In a circular issued by the Railway Board last month, 75 stations whose annual earnings exceed Rs 50 crore (called A-1 category stations) have been asked to ensure that the height of the tricolour is precisely 100 ft. The deadline to unfurl the national flag at railway stations is December 31, 2018.

Mumbai has seven A-1 category railway stations: CSMT, the Lokmanya Tilak Terminus in Kurla, Dadar, Thane, and Kalyan on the Central line, and Mumbai Central and Bandra Terminus on the Western line. The railway sources said the flag installation has been classified under “soft upgrades improvements at stations”.

A Central Railway source said the tricolour at CSMT will come up on platform number 18.

“The Railway Board circular has directed that flags should have focus lights, and the Railway Protection Force has been tasked to safeguard it. The cost to install a flag will be around Rs 9 lakh considering the lights and other decorative pieces,” the source said.

A senior railway official said the flag installations were a part of the government drive to project “symbols of nationalism”. “Whether it is portraits of freedom fighters or the national flag, the aim is to showcase the symbols of our country at public places,” the official said. The Railway Board directive says tricolours at the stations should be installed at spots closer to the entry/exit points.

Ravinder Bhakar, chief public relations officer of Western Railway, said the Railway Board’s directive will be followed to the letter. “We will do our best to meet the December deadline,” he said. Sunil Udasi, the Central Railway’s chief public relations officer, remained unavailable for comment.

A railway source said that there are also plans to paint the tricolour on the coaches of local trains. “Already, the tricolour has been painted on several first-class compartments of local trains. More trains will be covered in the coming months,” the railway source said.

The flags at railway stations is yet another example of the nationalist fervour sweeping through the country. On Sunday, when more than 60 world leaders gathered in Paris to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, French President Emmanuel Macron’s words strongly resonated with many Indians when he delivered a forceful rebuke against rising nationalism, calling it a “betrayal of patriotism” and warning against “old demons coming back to wreak chaos and death”.

Macron’s speech, at the Armistice Day ceremony, was a pointed rebuke to US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin but was also aimed at a global audience. India, meanwhile, has made it amply clear where it stands in the nationalism vs patriotism debate.