Letters to The Editor

Re.: Letter From Zahirab Last Week

Recently, there was an article by Zahirab Wadia stating that a Metro tunnel being built under the Atash Behrams at Princess Street is no threat to structures, culture, or religion of the Parsis. That point of view ignores certain facts that show there is a threat to the structures and to the peace and sanctity in our place of worship.

In 2004, the stained glass at the Bhika Behram well near Flora Fountain was vandalized and stolen. Police complaints were made, a candle light vigil was held, a few Parsis marched to Mantralaya; someone can correct me if I am wrong, but as far as I can tell nothing came of those efforts. The well was restored by a Parsi family and all was forgotten. This is another instance where the majority is indifferent to the sentiments of a minority community.

In July 2017, the Petit Library at D. N. Road complained about tremors felt in the building, which is a heritage structure, due to the construction of the underground metro. They are also concerned about the damage that could be done to the building. In August 2017, an ornamental feature fell and broke in the library due to the tremors.

In July 2018, several buildings in the Flora Fountain area, where the Hutatma Chowk station is being made, were flooded in the basements. Being tenants of one of those buildings, I can confidently say that has not happened in the past 10 years. I am not a civil engineer and have no proof of causation, however there is no proof against causation either and thus construction of the metro and the flooding cannot be dismissed as coincidence.

The above three incidents shows that our Atash Behrams are not free from threat of physical damage. We need to make our voices heard and safe guard our heritage and culture. There are several open questions. What guarantees are being given that construction of the underground metro will not affect our place of worship? History has shown that the majority communities and politicians do not care about the minorities. What guarantees have been given that the peace and sanctity while worshiping will be maintained, both during construction and also when trains pass after construction is complete? Are there any measurements being made on vibration and sound levels to compare post construction? Are goals being set for acceptable change? What happens when those goals are not met? Most importantly, why is the Bombay Parsi Panchayat being so docile? They should be leading the fight more aggressively than they have till now.

Let’s consider taking a leaf out of the tree huggers… and do so quickly.

Karl Buhariwala (karl@buhariwala.org)

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