Parsis aggrieved as BMC plans to relocate Parsi Gate to facilitate coastal road project

Members of the Parsi community are aggrieved with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) as the fate of the iconic ‘Parsi Gate’ continues to remain uncertain. In order to facilitate the ongoing construction work for the Coastal Road Project (CRP), the civic body had approached the Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP), seeking its approval to relocate the 100-year-old structure.

On Wednesday, a group of concerned citizens from the Parsi community went to the BMC to meet the civic chief, Iqbal Singh Chahal, to urge him not to relocate the structure.

The civic body plans to begin work on the proposed tunnel between Priyadarshini Park and Girgaum from January 7, and the citizens were concerned the tunnelling would affect the heritage infrastructure. Because of last-minute commitments, Chahal could not meet the delegation. However, Colaba legislator Rahul Narwekar and Corporator Harshita Narwekar met the group.

Havovi Sukhadwala, a member of the delegation, has been writing to a number of civic officials ever since the BMC announced it wanted to relocate the structure. In her letters, Sukhadwala urged the civic officials to let the structure remain at its original location.

Meanwhile the civic body has already acquired an NOC from the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC) for construction work at Marine Drive.

Replying to one of Sukhadwala’s letters, VS Nighot, chief engineer, CRP, had stated, Parsi Gate was not a heritage structure but was a part of the Marine Drive precinct, for which an NOC had already been obtained from the MHCC for carrying out construction work.

“In the EIA 2016 report, Girgaum Chowpatty area has been marked as a religious area. However, the Parsi Gate has neither been identified as a religious place nor a heritage structure in the EIA report,” Nighot had stated in the letter.

Earlier, in 2018, the Parsi Gate was renovated by the BMC. At that time, the civic body had required a separate NOC from the MHCC in order to carry out repairs.

“The BMC, in one letter states the structure is not a heritage structure while it took an NOC from the heritage cell to carry out repairing works, all of their points are contradictory,” Sukhadwala told The Free Pres Journal.

The delegation had also prepared an alternate design for the coastal road, which they had planned to pitch to the civic chief.

“In the BMC design, the ramp of the tunnel is being constructed adjoining the pavement, while they could have easily built it in the middle of the proposed road,” said Alan Abraham, architect of the design prepared by the members of the community and one of the concerned citizens.

Meanwhile, the BMC has written to the BPP, seeking post facto approval to relocate the structure. However, the BPP has not given its consent.

“The best solution for the community is to keep the structure where it is, but we are trying our best to keep the structure close to its original place” Viraf Mehta, a trustee-member, BPP, told the FPJ.

Meanwhile, MLA Rahul Narwekar had assured citizens he would take up the issue in the legislative assembly, to make sure the structure is not affected.

“I will arrange a meeting between the citizens and concerned officials in the next few days, this is a sensitive matter and it needs to be dealt with properly,” Narwekar told the FPJ.

Located at the Marine Drive Promenade just opposite the Taraporewala Aquarium, the design of the Parsi Gate is built on the basis of ancient Parsi architecture, which comprises two five-metre pillars made of stone. Parsis have been paying respect to Avan Yazad (water deity) for over a century and Hindus use the gate to immerse offerings in the sea during Poornima (full moon).