Ar Hafeez Contractor offers to design railway stns for free -min
Well-known architect Hafeez Contractor has offered to design free of charge 19 stations across the country, including several in Mumbai, as part of a redevelopment project being rolled out by the Railways. Among the stations Contractor, the Padma Bhushan awardee, has offered to redesign are Dadar, Parel, Wadala, Bandra and Khar in Mumbai. Apart from Contractor, architect-activist, P K Das, one of the foremost voices on preservation of open spaces in Mumbai has offered to do pro-bono work. Contractor recently had a meeting with the Railway Minister, Piyush Goyal and had expressed his desire to design some railway stations for free. According to Contractor the pro-bono offer was his way of “helping my country”. Other than Contractor and Das, two other firms too have come forward to design the railway stations for free.
The Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation Limited (IRSDC) has also started the process of empanelling architects who are experienced designers for the transport sector – metro, airports, bus terminals etc. As of now, IRSDC has empanelled 11 architects/agencies. Railway minister Goyal is also slated to hold architects meet soon to discuss ways to take the project further.
Recently, IRSDC had announced its plans to redevelop 600 stations in the country. The Railway Board has allowed residential development along with commercial development as part of the redevelopment scheme of railway stations to make such projects further viable commercially. Under the station redevelopment scheme, railways will give the stations to be redeveloped on a 99-year lease to the highest bidder for completion, development and subsequent operation. Earlier, the lease tenure was 45 years. All the 600 stations chosen for redevelopment will have the residential component.
After redevelopment of stations, the Railways plans to remain in the business of only running trains, leaving the management of stations to private players. Under the current station redevelopment plan, the Railways allocates operation and maintenance of stations to the developers, including of toilets on platforms, vendors, food stalls, parking and waiting rooms. Under the new re-development plan the Railways will also hand over revenue and operations of platform tickets stations to the developers who undertake station re-development.