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Can’t realign Metro tunnel under Mumbai fire temple: Project manager to Parsis

In November, Parsis has suggested reducing space between the two tunnels by 20 feet so that it does not pass under the fire temple

mumbai Updated: Jan 18, 2018 10:02 IST
Yesha Kotak
Yesha Kotak
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Metro,fire temple
Wadiaji Atash Behram at Princess Street. (HT Photo )

More than a month after discussing the issue with the members from Parsi community, the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) wrote to the trustees of Wadiaji Atash Behram, Princess Street, saying it will not be able to realign the Metro tunnel passing under the fire temple.

For the past three months, there have been protests by Parsis claiming that the tunnel would affect the sanctity of the fire temple. Former Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP) trustee Dinshaw Mehta, Bhikha Behram Well trustee Viraf Kapadia and trust architect Jehanbux Billimoria had met MMRCL chief project manager Ravi Kumar in November, asking him to reduce the space between the two tunnels by 20 feet so that it does not pass under the fire temple.

While Metro officials remained unavailable for comment, the letter sent to the trust architect by Kumar reads: “We regret to inform you that even after review, your request of realigning the upline tunnel by about 7m could not be accommodated. However, we assure you that necessary measures, including 24/7 monitoring, would be undertaken to ensure the structural safety of the fire temples.”

Mehta said since two Zoroastrian high priests had given their approval to the project, there was very little the community could do. “There is a status quo right now. We will seek help from a senior counsel and approach the court, if need be,” said Mehta.

In November 2017, high priests Vada Dastur Firoze M Kotwal and Vada Dasturji Khurshed Dastoor met chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and MMRCL managing director Ashwini Bhide, and gave their approval for the project, which did not go well with certain sections of the Parsi community. The temple — an Atash Behram houses the highest grade of sanctified fire — is one of the most important Zoroastrian shrines in Mumbai.

Billimoria said approvals given by the high priests acted as a handicap in seeking realignment of the tunnel from the MMRCL. “The sanctity of our temple will be affected because the upcoming tunnel will pass 65 feet below the agiary, while the drainage line will be 40-feet below the temple. For the fire to not be affected, the tunnel should pass at least below 125 feet. We are not against development, but the least the authorities could have done was move the tunnel outside the compound wall,” Billimoria added.

First Published: Jan 17, 2018 23:45 IST