CHENNAI: With Big Brother Southern Railway flexing its muscles and going ahead with the plans of creating more space for passenger movement, wait for a food plaza in the Central station is set to grow longer.
The plaza is at the centre of a tussle between the zonal railway and Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), as highlighted in an earlier Express report.
After expiry of the earlier tender, IRCTC had floated fresh tenders a year back which was won by a Chennai-based restaurant. The plaza was brought down for renovation in February and was due to be inaugurated by mid-May. However, Southern Railway, the landlord, expressed a desire to recall the place for creating wider space for passenger movement. This was contested by IRCTC as the tender had already been awarded.
Now, SR has demolished the wall and is currently relaying new tiles. Express understands that SR has offered IRCTC a choice to relocate the plaza to either of two locations. One is beside the Indian Bank ATM and the other is near the Bomb Squad office. But IRCTC sources indicate that these would not be legally, structurally or financially viable, as the awarded tender had clearly mentioned the location. IRCTC has also officially apprised the Railway Board of the issue and sought a reply from the winner of the tender as well.
Even if a new location was selected or the space was re-tendered, it would take a considerable time for the plaza to be set up, sources indicated. The closure of the plaza has already hit passengers. “I was expecting to pack my lunch for a long-distance travel from the plaza. There was no pantry on the train and I had to go without food till the train reached Salem,” said MP Anwar of the Confederation of All India Rail Users Association, recounting his recent journey to Mangalore from Chennai Central.
Absence of the plaza has also cost the Railways around Rs 2 crore as earnings from the contract, which is worth Rs 8 crore a year, railway sources indicated.