BPP Connect

Yazdi Desai, Chairman, BPP, updates the community about the ongoings in the BPP, with Parsi Times’ exclusive column, BPP Connect .

BPP Chairman, Yazdi Desai

On the 23rd of this month our Board will complete two years in office, a journey that has been as memorable as it has been gratifying.

I can honestly say that I feel that we have achieved more in the last two years than what we achieved in the seven years of the last Board. That is not to say that we did not achieve anything in the last Board. That would not just be untrue but also unfair to my colleagues, particularly Arnavaz, Jimmy and Khojeste. We did achieve a lot together though the journey with the new Board is different, primarily because we have interacted more pro-actively and positively with members of the community who have come to us for help and support.

My regular BPP connect in the first week of November will highlight the work we have done and hopefully my colleagues will also be able to connect in that edition and share their views.
However this mid-month write-up is to dispel any doubts that may have been created in the minds of the community about the action/lack of action/inaction of the Board of Trustees based on a flurry of comments on the social media platforms – some of which were honest, full of genuine worry and concern, whilst there were the usual ‘others’ which were dishonest and politically motivated. As a Board we have noted the genuine concerns and ignored the politically motivated, dishonest attacks.

There are three issues, which are of great concern to the community and of course to the Board of Trustees and to me personally as the Chairman.

  1. Sethna Agiary At Tardeo: It appears that the new proposed DP road may encroach upon the property of the Agiary. Some concerned members of the community brought this to the attention of the Trustees of the Sethna Agiary as well as the Trustees of the BPP. Whilst the actual position of the road line in the DP has yet to be determined and verified, we were fortunate enough to get an appointment of the Mayor of Mumbai, Shri Vishwanath Mahadeshwar, through the good offices of Shri Aditya Thackeray. Some concerned members of the community had set up this meeting with the Mayor and I along with my colleague Trustee Kersi Randeria went and expressed our concerns to the Mayor on Wednesday the 18th of October. We were accompanied by Mr Burjor Mehta, a Trustee of the Sethna Trust, Mr Ronnie Wadia and respected members of the community from Rustom Baug. The Mayor has expressed his support for the community and has promised to look into the matter and ask for the relevant DP remarks etc. before deciding on the way forward.
  2. Underground Metro: The work for the underground metro is scheduled to start soon and the concern of the community is that the path of the tunnel is running directly under the Wadiaji Atash Behram and skirting the boundaries of the Anjuman Atash Behram. The tunnel will also be passing close to our Bhikha Behram well, creating a concern about it affecting the underground aquifer/s and maybe affecting the level of water in the well. The Trustees have been in talks with some of the members of the community and have noted with happiness the spontaneous response to this issue, which has led to a signature campaign where so far more than 11,000 signatures have already been collected. The Trustees also met with an expert structural engineer Mr Jamshed Sukhadwalla who has done a tremendous amount of noteworthy and creditable work on the technical aspects of this issue. Mr Sukhadwalla, accompanied by Mr Hanoz Mistry had a detailed discussion with the Board in the last board meeting on Tuesday. The Board has given me the responsibility to fix up meetings with the highest authorities of the land with the help of some of our prominent community members to try and divert the route of the underground metro to safeguard the religious and physical aspects of our sacred religious institutions. It needs to be pointed out that the BPP is limited by the fact that we are not the Trustees of any of these institutions and we will therefore have to work closely with the Trustees of the respective trusts of the Atash Behrams as well as the Bhika Behram Kua and we are confident that with joint effort of the said trustees, the BPP trustees and members of the community, we will be able to achieve what we hope and intend to achieve.
  3. No Fly Zone at Doongerwadi: On this issue the BPP Trustees have been very firm from day one although, till date, we have not shared the details with members of the community as we needed to have something concrete to put before the community.
    The Airports Authority of India approached the Trustees of the BPP with the request to reduce both the lateral and the vertical limits of the No Fly Zone over our sacred Doongerwadi land. The Trustees had two meetings with the officers of the AAI, when the officers explained their problems and spelt out their requests through AV presentations. At the conclusion of each of these meetings the Trustees emphasized the importance of the No Fly Zone and insisted that they (the BPP Trustees) needed to consult our High Priests as well as involve the entire community in the discussion. The Trustees thereafter received a letter from the office of the Collector asking them to attend a meeting to discuss the issuance of the required NOC.
    In their reply to the Collector letter, the Trustees wrote: “In these discussions (with the AAI officials) it was pointed out that the Tower of Silence (Doongerwadi) is the holiest and most sacred place as far as our Parsi/Irani Zoroastrian community and the religious rituals are concerned. It is in this place that our dear departed are laid to rest and the open air space above this area is critical for the continuation of our long established and time tested method of disposal of the dead. We may point out that both in terms of visibility as well as affecting the bird population over this area would be critical concern for our community.” The letter continued to say: “Given the deep religious importance of this sacred land of ours the Trustees have decided to seek the opinion and views of our High Priests.”
    The above should amply clarify to the members of the community of the stand taken by the Trustees throughout the discussions. However giving respect to the authorities, the Trustees fixed up a meeting between our Vada Dasturjis and our religious scholars with the officers from the AAI and the Collector’s office. The Trustees were happy to also have the assistance of Ex-squadron leader Capt. Minoo Wadia to understand better the technical aspects of the request of the airport authority.
    The reply dated 16th October 2017, given by the Trustees after this meeting is printed alongside and is not only self-explanatory but also clear and emphatic about our stand on this issue.

My personal request as well as my request on behalf of my colleague Trustees to the members of the community is simple – Please maintain the same level of faith in us, as you infused in us two years ago. We, as a Board, are committed to the issues of the community and will remain so always.

I thank you all for your support.
God bless our small but beautiful community!

16th October 2017

Ms. Sampada Mehta

Zilla Adhikari,

Mumbai Area Mumbai City Collectorate,

Old Custom House,


Mumbai 400 001

Ref: CSLR / Maharashtra Shasan-1/ T-2 /Malabar Hill / Parsi Punchayet / 2017

Sub: Revision of flying restrictions over Tower of Silence Mumbai


Respected Madam,

On the 9th of October 2017 a meeting was held at the office of the Wadia Trust in Neville House, Ballard Estate, where the following persons were present – High Priest Dasturji Dr. Firoze Kotwal, High Priest Dasturji Khurshed Dastur, Scholar Priest Ervad Dr. Parvez Bajan, Mr. Rajiv Kumar Saxena, General Manager (Air Traffic Management), Mr. Ajay Joshi (Joint General Manager), Mr. Akshay Warang from Collector’s office, Ex-squadron leader Capt. Minoo Wadia and the Trustees of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet.

The Senior officers of the Airport Authority made a presentation to support the reduction of the extent of the prohibited area around centre of Tower of Silence.

For the record we wish to state as under –

The Tower of Silence (Doongerwadi) is one of the holiest and most sacred places as far as our Parsi /Irani Zoroastrian community and the religious rituals are concerned. It is in this place that our dear departed are laid to rest and the open air space above this area is critical for the continuation of our long established and time tested method of disposal of the dead. We may point out that both in terms of visibility as well as affecting the bird population over this area would be of critical concern for our community.

The area above the Tower of Silence has always been a “No Fly Zone” area much before Independence. Further the GSR. No. 1567 dated 16-11-1962 reaffirmed that the extent of prohibition in the area included within a radius of one mile from the Towers of Silence will be ABSOLUTE.

The AAI officers informed us that the new airport located at New Mumbai was about 11 nautical miles from the periphery of the Doongerwadi. Since the two runways were located such that their extended lines would be almost touching the periphery of the Doongerwadi, they were looking for dispensation from our side. After discussions for over an hour and various suggestions, the Parsi Panchayet would like to state the following.

  1. In the first place before the location for the airport was finalized, it would have been prudent to study all factors including the existing prohibited areas.

  2. The Bombay Parsi Panchayet would certainly not like to be in the way of any progress in the interest of the country and would like to accommodate any requests from the government authorities, but this is a very sensitive matter to all Parsis of Mumbai, and impinges on their religious sentiments.

We feel strongly that the present requirements of the AAI can be met by very slight modifications in the flight path of landing and departing aircraft. We trust that the AAI would make all efforts to accommodate our religious sentiments. Further, small and light aircraft and helicopters flying under VFR conditions could easily stay well clear of the Doongerwadi. We trust that our suggestions and sentiments find favour with your respected authority.

We thank you.

Yours truly,


Yazdi Desai

Chairman .


Copy to: Maharashtra Airport Development Company Ltd.

Kind Attn: Mr. Suresh Kakani, Vice Chairman & Managing Director


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