Letters To The Editor

The following is my response to the WhatsApp message circulated on social media, titled ‘Save the N M Wadia Dharamshala at Udvada’ by Sarosh Mistry and other social media messages from Adv. Khushru Zaiwala:

2It may be pointed out that occupancy rate for all Dharamshala at Udvada is about 30% annually, primarily due to Parsi pilgrims preferring day visits to Iranshah, saving on hotels/Dharamshala cost. The occupancy rate of our Dharamshala is far lower, ranging between 4% – 9%, due to 2 reasons. First – the Locational disadvantage, being far from Iranshah and the seashore and surrounded by encroachments; and 2 – The dilapidated structure and unpaved/ uneven grounds and the snake menace.

Despite the expenditure of over Rs.50 Lakhs on upgradation on the rooms, including fitting air conditioners, huge capital outlays need to be made to make the Dharamshala presentable. It was therefore felt that on account of the location disadvantage, low occupancy rate and the fact that well to do Parsis opt for other accommodation or have purchased flats in Udvada, the Dharamshala be sold and the income from the proceeds be utilised more effectively to serve the poor and distressed Parsis of the community, including those who want to visit Udvada to pay homage to Iranshah.

                Even prior to sale of the Dharamshala, the Trust embarked upon a plan of fulfilling the desire of poor Parsis by taking them in groups to Iranshah at our cost as they cannot afford it themselves. Also, aged and helpless poor Parsis would require a supervised tour. We would utilise the income from the proceeds also to increase our expenditure for the benefit of poor and distressed Parsis living in Udvada or elsewhere by continuing to help them for their medical, education and other needs.

Addressing the false and malicious comments made by Sarosh Mistry, that the Dharamshala is being sold secretly for the benefit of the Trustees, it may be mentioned that the process of sale is transparent, well-intentioned and with a view of getting maximum proceeds possible and harnessed for the poor and destitute Parsis of the community.

As per the provisions of the Maharashtra Public Trust Act, the Trustees are required to file an application under Section 36 of Maharashtra Public Trusts Act and publish a Public Notice in three newspapers for disposal of the Dharamshala and subsequently obtain permission of the Charity Commissioner. There was also an unsubstantiated statement made that the Railways were keen to buy the property at five times the market price. The Trustees would only be too happy if the statement is true and we can receive higher proceeds from the sale of the Dharamshala.

Dr. B. H. Antia
N M Wadia Charities)

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