Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation says it will install sensors and devices to monitor water level in Bhikha Behram and ensure that the corridor don’t affect the 290-yr-old structure.

10-03Authorities have reached out to the Parsi community to allay fears of the sacred Bhikha Behram well going dry due to the proposed Metro 3 underground corridor.

The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC), the nodal agency for the Metro 3 project, plans to install sensors and other devices to monitor liquid pressure and fluctuations in water level of the 290-year-old well at Churchgate.

The Grade I heritage structure is of utmost religious importance to the community members who have been parading to protect it from destruction.

Last week, the MMRC wrote to the community informing the members that several measures would be taken to preserve the well during and after construction of the Metro corridor.

Authorities listed measures such as installation of sensors and piezometers to study changes in the water level in real time during tunnelling in its vicinity. “We do not anticipate any adverse impact on the well due to Metro 3 tunnels,” assured SR Nandargikar, chief general manager of MMRC in the letter.

The Bhikha Behram well is one of the oldest sweet water reserves in the city. Located at the corner of Cross Maidan in Churchgate, it was built by a Parsi man named Bhikhaji Behramji way back in 1725 to fulfil the drinking water needs of the people in the area and also became a religious place as Parsis worship water and fire.

The news of the underground Metro corridor disturbed the trustees as they feared that it would eventually dry up like most wells in the city after massive construction around them.

“We were very concerned. We do hope that MMRC authorities remain cautious and implement all the points assured to us to protect the structure,” said Viraf Kapadia, member of the Bhikha Behram Well Trust.

The well is located between the proposed Churchgate and Hutatma Chowk Metro stations. The rail level in this stretch is about 23.4 meters below the ground level, while a Metro tunnel is at a distance of 21.3 meters from the well. But MMRC authorities have rejected the trustees’ proposal to slightly shift the alignment.

“We are not against any kind of development as long as our structure is not harmed. We do understand the importance of this vital public transport project but not at the risk of city’s heritage,” said Kapadia.

Published on Mumbai Mirror

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