Religious structures ahead, rly halts expansion plans

Religious structures ahead, rly halts expansion plans

Officials seek relocation of mosques, temples from platforms

While encroachment over railway land for residential and commercial purposes is a common sight, at least 13 religious structures — eight temples and five mosques — have come up in and around New Delhi railway station. This has hampered expansion plans of the railways.

While these structures are located at different areas, including the circulating area on Paharganj side, near the railway yard and DRM office, a mosque and temple are functioning right on the platforms.

While Lankeshwar Mahadev temple is located on platform number six and seven, Garib Shah mosque is on platform number two and three.

Railway officials say these structures have been a bottleneck in expansion plans of some of their projects. “Both platform number two and seven are shorter than other platforms. If the length of these platforms are increased, even trains with 24 to 26 coaches can operate from there. But it cannot happen till these structures are there,” said a senior railway official, who does not want to be named.

Other religious structures on railway land include Vishwakarma temple, Gauri Shankar temple, Prajapati Shiv temple, Sheetla Mata mandir, Acchan Mian Burji Wali masjid and Masjid Hanifa. While three temples are functioning from Paharganj forecourt, a temple and a mosque are functional near the railway shed.

“Sheetla Mata mandir and Acchan Mian Burji Wali masjid often see huge turnout for prayers. Being close to the maintenance yard, they even hamper day-to-day operations, especially during festivals,” the official said.

“Similarly, if the temples in the forecourt on Paharganj side are relocated, passenger and vehicle movement in the circulating area will become smooth,” the official added.
Railway officials say the project of making New Delhi railway station into a world-class facility will require relocation of these structures because the entire station would have to be razed down for the project.

But all efforts of the department have failed to yield result as priests and clerics claim the structures are centuries old.

Mohammad Shafeeq Ahmad, maulvi of Garib Shah mosque on platform number two and three, said the mosque is 300 years old and is a property of the Wakf Board.
“I have been offering namaz at this mosque for the last 38 years. Barring few days during Partition, the mosque has been functional,” said Ibrar Ahmed, a porter, after offering prayers at the mosque.

Members of Vishwakarma Temple committee in Pharaganj forecourt said the temple is 400 years old, while railway officials claim the structure is just 20 to 30 years old.
“The temple is functional here from the time when even the station was not operational. There is no question of relocating,” said Bhagwan Sahay, a member of the temple committee.

The temple premises has also given way to a dharmashala, which provides cheap accommodation to passengers.

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