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Centre’s proposal to UNESCO to confer heritage status on the 105-year-old Matheran toy train railway is mired in controversy with the descendants of its founder Sir Adamjee Peerbhoy moving the Bombay High Court to rename the railway after him.

The Court has expedited the hearing of the petition although it has not come up for arguments, Ali Akbar Adamjee Peerbhoy, the petitioner and great grandson of the founder of Matheran railway, said on the occasion of 167th birth anniversary of Sir Adamjee Peerbhoy falling Monday.

The petition has argued that despite the recommendation of Maharashtra Government to rename Matheran Railway station after its founder, the Central Government has rejected the proposal without applying its mind on the issue.

Justice D D Sinha and Justice V K Tahilramani, while declining to grant interim relief, recently ordered that the petition’s hearing be expedited so that it is finally decided.

In 2010, the Peerbhoy family had also written to UNESCO, who said the matter was within the purview of the Indian Government and it would forward their request to the concerned authorities to rename the Matheran railway after its founder.

Meanwhile, president of Matheran Municipal Council Ajay Sawant recently assured the Peerbhoy family that the civic body will honour Sir Adamjee Peerbhoy and his son Abdul Hussain Peerbhoy by exhibiting their photographs in the gallery of distinguished persons, who have strived for Matheran’s development.

Long ago, when the palanquin was the only mode of transport from Neral on the foothills of Matheran to the hill top, Sir Adamjee Peerbhoy and his son Abdul Hussain Adamji had set up a railway at a cost of Rs 16 lakh in 1907. Four engines and accessories including the tiny tracks were imported from Germany to lay down the railway.

After Independence, the department of Railways took over Matheran railway from the Peerbhoy family and promised to pay royalty to them. However, the amount still remains unpaid, the family has claimed in a separate petition which is yet to come up for hearing. They have claimed Rs 100 crore from the Indian Government.

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