Surprised to find St Xavier’s Church in Vile Parle (West) in Mumbai marked as an orphanage in the proposed development plan (DP), the parishioners have started a signature campaign to urge the government to rectify the error.
The issue was first discussed at a meeting of around 400 residents last week.
In one compound, t here is the church, an orphanage called Shishu Bhawan (run by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity) and Xavier’s High School and Junior College.
While the school has been listed correctly, the DP has no mention of the church and lists the two structures as one orphanage, said advocate Godfrey Pimenta.
Parishioner Darryl D’souza said the error has left the parish stumped. “In future, if we wish to carry out any repairs in the 160-year-old church building, the municipal authorities can insist it is not a religious structure and stop us,” he said.
Parishioners say the land records show the church was established in 1850, and was renovated around 80 years ago. The orphanage, meanwhile, was constructed in the 1970s, they said.
D’souza said the DP also proposes the extension of an existing road running adjacent to the orphanage from the current 15 ft to about 40 ft. “The road connects the Vile Parle railway station and the Vallabhbhai Road. For extension, some of the orphanage structure will have to be demolished. With the church non-existent on the map, part of it may be demolished too,” he said.
The parish started the campaign on the church premises on Thursday. “The campaign will go on till Easter. We have collected around 2,500 signatures so far,” said Pimenta. “One copy of the list of signatures will be sent to the civic commissioner and another to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis,” he said.
A priest with the parish, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they were waiting for the Easter celebrations to conclude, after which the issue will be taken up with the Archdiocese of Bombay.