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Mumbai’s Parsis protest against Metro alignment, say it will desecrate two fire temples

The community said two notable fire temples in south Mumbai would be disturbed owing to the tunnelling work

mumbai Updated: Oct 28, 2017 14:25 IST
Swapnil Rawal and Yesha Kotak
Swapnil Rawal and Yesha Kotak
Hindustan Times
Mumbai Metro,Fire temples,Uddhav Thackeray
The community wants the Colaba-Bandra-SEEPZ Metro line, which is under construction, re-aligned.(HT File)

Representatives from the Parsi community met Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Friday, demanding that the alignment of Colaba-Bandra-SEEPZ Metro-3 be changed.

Reason: The corridor is slated to pass right under the Sanctum Sanctorum, where the community’s holy fire is enshrined.

At a meeting with Thackeray at Sena Bhavan in Dadar, the community said two notable fire temples in south Mumbai would be disturbed owing to the tunnelling work, which could also desecrate the sacred fire. The Wadia fire temple on JSS Road at the Princess Street junction is one of eight Atash Behrams in India, where the highest grade of consecrated fire burns.

“A major portion of the tunnel will pass below the sanctum sanctorum. This will break the sacred fire’s contact with the earth. If the Metro passes under the Atash Behram, the place will lose its sanctity,” said Pervez Cooper, vice-president of Clean Heritage Colaba Residents Association (CHCRA), who led the delegation.

He submitted a letter with around 3,500 signatures to Thackeray. As many as 11,000 people have supported online petition, meant to reach Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Sawant and MLA Pandurang Sakpal attended meeting and said Thackeray assured the community that his party would talk to the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) — the agency implementing the project.

“Uddhavji assured them that their fire temples would not be disturbed and that he would seek technical advice from the MMRC as to whether the Metro alignment could be revised,” said Sapkal.

Cooper said the community was not against the city’s development. We are pro-development, but at what cost? Not at the cost of hurting the sentiments of our miniscule community. Thackeray has heard our priests’ complaints, and said he would solve them,” he said.

Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited declined to comment. Managing director Ashwini Bhide had earlier told HT that it was too late to change the alignment of the corridor.

None of the trustees of Bombay Parsi Panchayet — the apex representative body — attended the meeting.

“According to plans that the authorities gave us, the tunnel passes under the temple, but away from the fire,” said Dinshaw Mehta, former chairman of the trust.

First Published: Oct 28, 2017 14:25 IST