Mumbai forgets its ‘Founder’ Nana Shankar Sheth

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Nana shanakr shethOften political parties and social welfare organisations have made demands to rename railway stations in the name of prominent leaders who have made some contribution towards the nation’s development. On Monday, Akhil Bharatiya Daivadnya Samajonnati Parishad held a silent protest near Mumbai Central Terminus station pressing forward for their demand to rename the station as Nana Shankar Sheth Terminus. After paying tribute to the statue of philanthropist Jagannath Nana Shankar Sheth at Nana Chowk members organised a signature campaign in support of their demand. Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant too participated in the protest. By organising the protest, the organisation wanted to draw the attention of the state government, railways and the central government towards this issue.

Shiv Sena MP Gajanan Kirtikar said that Mumbai Central Terminus should be renamed as Nana Shankar Sheth Terminus. He said, “We have already raised this issue in the legislative assembly and done follow up. We also had forwarded a letter to former railway minister Suresh Prabhu last year.”

Nana had played a pivotal role in the starting of Indian Railways and held discussions with the British government in this regard. He is considered as the father of the Indian railways. Sheth had donated his own plot for the construction of railway office. His efforts succeeded as the Great India Peninsula Railway was incorporated as he and Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy became the two Indians among the 10 directors of the GIP railways.

Akhil Bharatiya Daivadnya Parishad joint secretary Chandrashekhar Dabholkar said, “Many people attended the protest and supported the signature campaign. The state government had not forwarded our proposal to the central government and railway ministry.”

“Britishers also respected Shankar Sheth as they had constructed his statue in the town hall. Even though nobody is opposing our proposal, then why the state government is not giving their nod for renaming the station? If Chief Minister fails to consider our demand then we will protest outside his residence,” he added.

If the government can rename important landmarks in the city in the name of prominent leaders like Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Babasaheb Ambedkar, Lokmanya Tilak, why can’t it rename a station in Shankar Sheth’s name? Why is a philanthropist and educationist like him not getting his due? Despite making various contributions for the development of railways why is he sidelined? Arvind Sawant had raised this issue in the legislative assembly twice. The state government then had given him assurance about renaming the station but no headway has been made.

BJP MP Gopal Shetty said that Nana Shankar Sheth was a great man. “He had made a significant contribution to the city and railway’s development. The government should rename Mumbai Central Terminus as Nana Shankar Sheth Terminus. I appreciate Akhil Bharatiya Daivadnya Samajonnati Parishad for not opposing the state government’s move to rename Victoria Terminus as Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus,” he said.

Shankar Sheth also had made a major contribution towards the development of Mumbai. He was one of the founders of the School Society and the Native School of Bombay. He had contributed funds when Students’ Literary and Scientific Society first opened their girls’ schools, despite facing stiff opposition from few members of the Hindu community.

Former corporator Shiv Sena and Nana Shankar Sheth Committee president Adv Manmohan Chondkar said, “Government only knows the reason behind renaming the station. Britishers too had respected him. Even though he had started the Indian Railways but the government is not showing gratitude towards him.”

“On the occasion of 150 death anniversary of Nana Shankar Sheth, I had demanded that the state government should rename Mumbai Central station after his name. Even though we forwarded application in this regard, but no action has been taken by the government,” he added.

In the year 1982, Akhil Bharatiya Daivadnya Samajonnati Parishad had put forward a proposal to rename Victoria Terminus station as Nana Shankar Sheth. Even though the station was renamed as Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus in 1995, the organisation didn’t oppose the government’s move to rename the station in the name of Maratha warrior. They nonetheless have been demanding the renaming of Mumbai Central Terminus as Nana Shankar Sheth and also have held several demonstrations in the past.

Congress leader Sachin Sawant said, “The government should consider Akhil Bharatiya Daivadnya Samajonnati Parishad’s demand to rename Mumbai Central Terminus station. Today’s generation should know about his contribution towards the city.”

Not only Mumbai Central station but political parties are also demanding the renaming of several other stations in the city. Shiv Sena has demanded the renaming of Elphinstone Road, Charni Road stations on Western Railway, Currey Road on Central Railway and Sandhurst Road, Cotton Green and Reay Road stations on the Harbour Line. Political parties often propose the name of veteran leaders of their party who share the outfit’s ideology thereby sidelining those personalities who have made vital contribution to the nation’s development.

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