New BPP Board Turns One!

The new Board of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet assumed office a year ago. Parsi Times catches up with the Trustees on behalf of the community to congratulate their completion of a year in their new term, which started off rather well, but slowed down soon after, due to the inability of the Board to unite and come through for the community. Although the new Board seems to have delivered on a few promises and shows great potential on fulfilling the rest, the current discord within the BPP which has some Trustees pushing for a complete ban on the functioning of the BPP, has left the community in a sad situation yet again. Parsi Times sent mails to all Trustees seeking their response. While the team that has been fighting against this functional ban that has dismayed our beneficiaries – namely, Chairman Yazdi Desai and Trustees Noshir Dadrawala, Kersi Randeria and Zarir Bhathena – promptly sent in their replies, Trustees Viraf Mehta and Armaity Tirandaz chose not to respond.

Yazdi DesaiBPP Chairman, Yazdi Desai:

“On 23rd October 2016, I completed one year as Chairman of the BPP and I can look back on the last one year as quite fulfilling. The new Board has covered extensive ground on all fronts including housing, kick-starting long term housing projects, strengthening the administration, settling legal cases, plugging financial leakages by introducing a system of checks and balances, reconstituting and strengthening the Defunct Anjuman Committee (DAC) of the Federation of Parsi Zoroastrian Anjumans of India. As a Board, in my opinion, our top 3 achievements would be:

  1. Being sensitive and responsive to the plight of the poor who approach us in need of shelter. We allotted 65 flats in one year as compared to 75 flats allotted by the previous Board through its full term of 7 years!
  2. Settlement of Class IV Union Agreement for an annual increase agitated by the Union.
  3. Reconstituting and strengthening the Defunct Anjuman Committee (DAC) of the Federation of Parsi Zoroastrian Anjumans of India, such that properties estimated at Rs. 500 crores are protected and illegal sale of community lands is stopped.

Future areas of focus –

  1. To complete the Housing Projects in Nirlon Goregaon Complex and Bharucha Baug in 3 years, which will add 150 new flats to BPP housing stock for allotment to our community.
  2. To make the BPP financially sustainable by balancing the income and expenditure of the various BPP Colonies and Wadia Baugs.
  3. To upgrade and maintain the upkeep of BPP Colonies and Baugs, so as to improve the quality of life of the residents.
  4. To strengthen the system of Dokhmenishini by improving the working of the Doongerwadi through streamlining the administration and offering improved facilities to the beneficiaries who use Doongerwadi for the disposal of their dead.

I appeal to all members of my beloved community not to be influenced and swayed by all that is written in the social media and to have faith in and support the present Board, which is striving to make the BPP an oasis for the less fortunate of our community and work solely for the benefit of our Parsi /Irani Community.”

Noshir-H-Dadrawala1 copyNoshir Dadrawala:

“I look back on the last one year with mixed feelings. To be honest, there have been highs and there have been lows. However, the lows are a learning curve and I view the future with optimism and enthusiasm. There have been mistakes and incorrect choices, individually and collectively. But it’s all part of human and inter-personal dynamics. One can always choose to learn from mistakes and be wiser today than what one was yesterday! The new Board inherited a number of liabilities and most of the year passed by in addressing these including lifting the stay order of the charity commissioner, getting the accounts audited and arriving at an amicable settlement with the Labour Union. We amicably settled several cases and filed consent terms in courts and are inching our way to settle an issue with Aderbad Society that has remained unresolved since three decades. Without any fanfare, the Board is working to conserve the delicate eco-system at Doongerwadi with the help of an environmental specialist like Dr. Rashne Pardiwala.

As a Board we do differ at times but every effort is made to resolve conflicts and the good news is the Board is unanimous in creating new housing opportunities, starting with projects in the western suburbs. Hopefully, within another two years, this Board will be in a position to offer affordable homes to several young to-be or newlywed couples as also accommodate those who live in congestion or not so safe locations.

Not only is every member of the Board individually and collectively accessible to members of the community, but, we also try to ensure that the BPP staff adheres to a friendly and helpful approach towards all beneficiaries. A Corporate, Trust or any other Board is like a sports team. A successful Board wins as a team. But, if its members are intent upon winning their own individual battles with one another, the team loses. A winning solution is to work out the differences and, when it’s over, let it be over. Then they can get back in the game as a team. Personally, I am optimistic enough to make and see this happen.”

zarir-bhathena2Zarir Bhathena:

“As per our election promise we did complete all the pending accounts – we completed the audit and filing of Income Tax returns, which was pending for years, thanks to the support of Armin Irani and Fali Billimoria of Kalyaniwala and Mistry CA. All accounts spanning March ending of the financial years, 2014, 2015 and 2016 have been finalized and the returns have been sent.

It’s been a year which started out on a very fruitful note, but then all the conflicts started arising and worsened and after April 2016, things started to go their own way, due to the non-cooperation from a couple of Trustees. It saddens me to see so many of our beneficiaries being subject to choiceless waiting while some Trustees push for a complete ban on the functioning of all services of the BPP. I hope this stalemate ends soon and I look forward to the cooperation from all the Trustees so that the BPP resumes its earlier fervor and starts working once again towards we move ahead.

kersi-randeria-copyKersi Randeria:

“I had neither really planned nor imagined I would stand for the BPP elections – but here I am today, a Trustee of the new Bombay Parsi Punchayet Board – having completed a partly satisfying and a partly tumultuous first year. The first few months were brilliant – we put in hard work and felt a humongous sense of achievement as we started delivering on our promises. We believed we would be the change and bring in the much needed difference. We held meetings twice a week, from 5:00pm to midnight – doing Trust work on Tuesdays and meeting community members on Wednesdays. The happiness and smiles on the faces of the beneficiaries empowered our determination and energized our efforts to work even harder and better. We brought in a whole change of attitude – so much so that even those, to whom we could not allot a house, went back without feeling unjustly treated. I remember a lady, who after having been told that we could not allot her a house in the immediate future, smiled and said, “Yes, I had thought I may not be eligible as of now but the fact that the Trustees gave us tea, spent so much time talking to us so pleasantly, has made me feel extremely happy and may you always be like this – a happy and cheerful team!”

However, things did go downhill and the discord amongst Trustees slowed down the process – with two Trustees demanding that the BPP’s working be brought to a halt – leading to unfortunate, endless waiting for the community. Fortunately, four of the right-thinking Trustees – who believe that the BPP is meant to serve the community and not protect our own personal interests – Yazdi, Zarir, Noshir and I, rose up to the challenge and are currently committed to ensuring that the BPP continues working for the benefit of our people. We will need all the support from you – our community – because it is only together that we can bring in the change we desire. Service to my community was the promise with which I took the oath as a BPP Trustee and I will continue striving to deliver those promises, against all odds.”

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