A nearly decade-long battle to remove a two-level hoarding within the premises of the Parsi Tower of Silence (Doongerwadi) at Malabar Hill ended after it was pulled down over the weekend.
It was removed not by the civic authorities, but by the Bombay Parsi Punchayat (BPP), which controls the 55-acre forest property, which is the final resting place for the Parsi community.
Community activists like gynaecologist Dr Anahita Pundole had protested against the hoarding, stating it was unauthorised and within a heritage precinct. Since then several letters have been sent to both the BMC and the BPP to remove it.
“Doongerwadi is a sacred place and falls in the heritage list and this kind of commercial exploitation is not acceptable. Despite several letters, the civic body chose to do little about it. Finally, the BPP has moved to dismantle the hoarding,” she said.
Pundole had filed a PIL in 2002 in HC to stop proliferation of hoardings that violated the BMC’s own policy guidelines.
Pundole said her attorneys had sent another letter to the BPP and the BMC last month pointing how the hoardings were in violation of many court orders. “This hoarding was erected without permission and I am delighted to see it come down. I am not in town, but I have got photographs of the same,” she said.
Firoza Punthakey Mistree, a researcher who writes on Zoroastrianism and the Parsis said, “Doongerwadi is our sacred ground. The hoardings were like a blot on the landscape and should have never have been put up. We are pleased the present lot of trustees has dismantled it.”
When contacted, Bombay Parsi Panchayat chairman Yezdi Desai said this should have been done many years ago. “We just got a letter from Dr. Pundole asking why it was still there. Hence, we decided to remove the installation,” he said.
Officials from BMC’s superintendent of licence department remained unavailable for comment.