Parsis oppose toilet block near Girgaum fire temple

Vow to move court if BMC does not scrap proposal

After its fight to protect two fire temples from tunnelling for Metro 3, the Parsi community has taken up the task to save another fire temple: the Dadiseth Atash Behram in Fanaswadi in Girgaum.

The community is worried about the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) proposal to build a pay-and-use container toilet block near the fire temple.

According to community members, the BMC issued a public notice in May, informing residents about the proposal. Officials from C Ward said objections must be raised within 30 days, that is by June 8. The Hindu has a copy of the notice.

“I only got to know about the notice on June 14. I promptly circulated it within the community,” said lawyer Rayomand Zaiwala. “It is extremely upsetting that the BMC is planning a public toilet right next to a holy place. If they don’t reconsider it, we will be left with no choice but to approach the court,” Mr. Zaiwala said.

The Dadiseth Atash Behram is a grade IIA heritage structure. It is one of the four atash behrams — temples that house the highest grade of fire — in Mumbai.

“It would be disrespectful to build a public toilet adjacent to a nearly 300-year-old sacred structure,” said another community member. He said courts had earlier ruled that a public toilet cannot be put up nearby a place of worship.

Earlier case

In the 1990s, the BMC had constructed a public toilet near the Bhikha Behram Well located at the corner of Cross Maidan. Community members had approached the court for removal of the toilet, as the well was a place of worship. “We first went to the High Court and then the Supreme Court. We fought the case for 14 years, till the court ruled in our favour and the toilet had to be demolished,” said Viraf Kapadia, member of the Bhikha Behram Well Trust, who was one of the petitioners.

“Whenever the BMC comes up with such plans, they should put up a public notice in community newspapers as well. Also, civic officials have to think several times before making such a plan. It is not only wrong aesthetically to have a toilet next to a heritage structure, it also hurts religious sentiments,” Mr. Kapadia said.

Udaykumar Shiroorkar, Assistant Municipal Commissioner, C Ward, said the BMC has not received any objections so far. “Public toilets are extremely essential. But if anybody raises a grievance, we do take it into consideration,” he said.