The Khada Parsi, the statue of Shet Cursetjee Manockjee erected in the memory of the illustrious Parsi in the 1860s, was made to order after his youngest son Manockjee Cursetjee shelled out Rs 20,000–a princely sum then. The family later “gifted” the statue to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on the condition that it would be maintained properly. More than a century later, the statue stands sandwiched and lost between two flyovers in Byculla.
The civic body is now planning to restore eight Grade-I heritage urban artifacts, including the Khada Parsi statue and seven fountains and pyauus (drinking water spots) in the city, to their lost glory.
BMC’s City Engineer P B Bagul said, “They (the artifacts) are strategically located at traffic islands or busy public crossings, but except for a few known ones all are in a bad shape.” The idea is to restore them to their original glory, he said. “Post restoration, these artifacts will look as they did when they were first put up,” Bagul said.
The civic administration has already appointed consultants for the restoration work who are expected to submit their preliminary report after inspection and documentation.
Pankaj Joshi, who is undertaking the repair of grand old Parsi statue, said over the years air pollution has damaged the structure. “Lots of details and features have gone missing,” he said. The statue had four large lamps midway up the Corinthian column, he said, adding while the column still exists but the four lamps at the base of the statue have disappeared. The bronze has also faded due to pollution, he said. “All the missing details will be restored,” Joshi said.
The BMC will also repair seven fountains and pyaaus, including the famous Flora Fountain, Rustonsee Mulji Fountain, Wellington Fountain and a pyaau at Kala Chowkie junction. Bagul said that since the Flora Fountain area had bullock carts and horse buggies running around, there were numerous pyauus for animals to drink water. The animal pyaau at Gokhale road was among them but few people know this and it’s in a bad shape, he said.
Ambha Lamba, who has been appointed to restore the Wellingdon Fountain, said that the repairs were long over due. “These fountain is located where lakhs of people pass by everyday but few are aware of its importance. The repairs will definitely restore its lost glory,” she said.
Once restored, the Parsi statue and fountains and pyaaus will be illuminated in the evening and the areas around them will be landscaped. The BMC will also put up plaques giving details of their history and importance, Bagul said. “We want to bring these artifacts into limelight and make Mumbiities aware of the city’s lost glory,” he added.