300 trucks of Mud dumped at Doongerwadi kicks up a storm

Four trustees of Parsi Punchayet allege the ‘debris’ was loosely dumped without finding out if it is fit for plantation, and poses a threat of landslides during monsoon; BPP chairman rubbishes allegations.01-02
Doongerwadi, the sacred Parsi land at Malabar Hill, is once again mired in controversy. Around 300 truckloads of debris from a construction site have been allegedly dumped in the densely wooded area. Some of the trustees of Bombay Parsi Punchayet have objected to this, saying it has raised the height of the area by four feet and poses a threat of landslides during monsoon.At least four trustees have taken serious note of the dumping and blamed the chairman, Dinshaw Mehta, for “unilaterally and arbitrarily authorising dumping of 300 trucks of matti (debris) on the sacred Doongerwadi lands from nearby construction site, without consulting the BPP Board and Doongerwadi Advisory Committee”.Yazdi Desai, a trustee, recently wrote to fellow trustees and the Doongerwadi Advisory Committee, stating, “By unauthorised action, large areas of the Doongerwadi forest have now been covered by four feet of this ‘matti’ and the topography has been altered.”

The letter (a copy is with Mirror), goes on to state that the ‘matti’ has been dumped without any soil investigation to ascertain if it is fit for plantation. “The matti, piled up loosely, poses a serious threat of landslides during monsoon, endangering Godrej Baug precincts, and also threatens to breach the stone (boundary) wall,” the letter said.

It further alleged that the BPP chairman allowed the dumping to favour a developer. “Dinshaw Mehta comes under a cloud of suspicion for favouring a builder who has saved in excess of Rs 20 lakh by being allowed to dump the excavated matti at Doongerwadi,” the letter said, adding, if not the builder would have had to truck the matti beyond city limits at considerable cost, and would have to seek permission besides paying royalty running into lakhs of rupees to the government.

The letter claims that four trustees – Yazdi Desai, Khojetse Mitree, Jimmy Mistry and Arnavaz Mistry – have now decided to sort out the problem. Insiders reveal that in the last few days they got soil investigation done. However, their larger concern is that the mound, spread over a large tract in Doongerwadi, will get washed away during monsoon and affect neighbouring residential pockets, thereby endangering lives.

The four trustees have also brought this to the notice of the charity commissioner, who is hearing aseparate case for removal of the chairman.

However, when Mumbai Mirror contacted BPP Chairman Dinshaw Mehta, he refuted the allegations. Confirming debris had been dumped, he said, “The allegations are baseless. It was done under the supervision of Dr Homi Dhalla, an environmentalist who looks after upkeep and maintenance of Doongerwadi’s flora and fauna.”

Dr Dhalla, who has been involved with Doongerwadi for 35 years, explained that the material is not debris but rich ‘matti’ which is fit for vegetation. “Under normal circumstances, we would have to pay lakhs for such matti, but we got it free from a construction site. We also got excavators to level the land and, in fact, have already planted on the matti which has proved very fertile,” he said.

Dr Dhalla added that for three months he kept writing to all trustees telling them about the ‘matti’ from a construction site, but got no reply. It was only after several truckloads were dumped and levelling had begun that some trustees objected.

As for threat from soil erosion, Dr Dhalla said, “We got rocks to bank the matti and prevent erosion. Some trustees have stopped the work, which is a problem. They are trying to stall the work to malign my name and that of Dinshaw Mehta.”

  • Rusi S. Mahudawala

    The four Trustees of BPP, viz Ms. Yazdi Desai, Khojetse Mitree, Jimmy Mistry and Arnavaz Mistry he four Trustees represent the WAPIZ , an Anti Reformist Group, are bent of throwing Mr. Dinshaw Mehta out and take over the management of the BPP. These gentlemen are mainly responsible in throwing out the two so called “Renegade Priests” and have spent over Rs. 3 crores of the Panchayat Funds in litigation. The WAPIZ group are sore at Mr. Dinshaw Mehta because he opposed the entry of Ms. Anahita Desai into the BPP and are trying all tricks of the trade to keep him out of the BPP.
    Dr. Homi Dhalla is a highly respected scholar who does not see eye to eye to the WAPIZ roup and that makes Dr. Dhalla a target of their wrath.
    The WAPIZ cannot tolerate anybody opposing their views. If the WAPIZ group is successful in its endeavors, then God save BPP in particular and all the right thinking Parsis in general.,