After Parsi-Zoroastrians said that tunnelling for the Colaba-Seepz metro rail project and the pumping out of water from the tunnels could dry up the centuries-old Bhikha Behram Well near Churchgate, metro officials have called for a meeting next week.
A hydrological study commissioned by the community has said that water levels in the well could be affected if the metro rail tunnel is dug, as it is planned, just 15 metres away. The findings of the study will be discussed at the meeting, said members of the trust that manages the well.
Apart from its religious and architectural significance, the well is also a source of potable water. Dr Jehanbux Chichgar, who worships at the well, said, “When there are fires in the city, the fire brigade draws water from the well, non-Parsis also use the water,” he said.
PS Ramakrishna, the geologist, who was commissioned for the study, said he suggested that the route of the metro be shifted south from its alignment under Veer Nariman Road to Oval Maidan. He said that tunnelling work is known to affect the water table in nearby areas. “When tunnels were dug to create the subway under the Metro cinema junction, there was a drop in water level in a nearby well,” he said.
R Ramana, additional chief (transport planning), Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority, which is building the rail line, said, “The well is one of the structures adjacent to the metro line and we had sent them (Parsis) details of the alignment. We are meeting them to hear them and address their concerns.”
There are also worries that the well, which is fed by a natural spring, could be contaminated from sewage from housing quarters that could be set up for workers laying the metro rail. In the past, the well trust had approached the courts to stop activities that could pollute the well.
“We do not want to obstruct the (Metro) project, but we want to be sure that our well does not go dry,” said Viraf Kapadia, member of the well trust.