No Metro digging beyond fire temple limits till March 2019

Metro 3 construction outside the Anjuman Atash Behram in Kalbadevi. (Credit: Aarefa Johari)

High Court adjourns Parsi community’s case to next year citing shortage of time

The Parsi community, rallying to protect two fire temples from tunnelling work for the underground Mumbai Metro 3, got some relief on Thursday. The Bombay High Court has adjourned the hearing in the case to March 3 next year citing paucity of time, and the ad-interim relief granted to the Parsis prohibits the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd from drilling beyond the temple boundaries.

Wadia Atash Behram and Anjuman Atash Behram, located near the Princess Street junction, house the highest grade of fire for the Parsis. There are only eight atash behrams in India, of which four are in Mumbai.

“The fire gets its sustenance from the core of the earth and anything that enters its path will cause a breach in this connection. Thus, a tunnel beneath the fire temple will be a breach,” said Jamshed Sukhadwalla, a structural engineer and a petitioner in the case. He said another fear is that the wells inside the fire temples may dry up, as boring could lead to cracks in the rocks. “We have not only raised the issue, but also suggested a solution through possible realignment of the tunnel with help of religious and structural experts.”

The MMRCL has said the tunnel will not pass beneath the sanctum, but the petitioners have saidthe tunnel should not pass under the temple premises.

Community member and lawyer Rayomand Zaiwala said the alignment should be reworked to avoid disturbance to the fire temples.

Some community members, however, feel the tunnel will not cause any desecration. Writer and columnist Farrukh Dhondy, in an open letter in a newspaper, said, “I think both these objections are nonsensical. There are no magnetic or gravitational fields between the fires and the earth and monsoon waters will undoubtedly fill the well. I pray that the Parsi community, so prominent in its advocacy of forward-thinking — in science, politics, law and social reform — does not publicly embrace or endorse the sort of nonsense which claims that ancient India had flying saucers, nuclear bombs and pioneered head transplants.”

Mr. Sukhadwalla said such comments are made by those who don’t have enough knowledge about the subject.. “There is no magnetic field. It is an aura, a spiritual shield that protects the holy fire,” he said.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here