Parsis: The Zoroastrians of India Pakistan and The World

Mumbai’s heritage Parsi Gate to be removed to make way for Coastal Road construction

RTI response says BMC will shift it back after work is done, but Parsis are worried about its condition

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Apart from marine life, the proposed Coastal Road will see another casualty: Parsi Gate, which comprises two century-old stone pillars at Marine Drive, will be temporarily removed to make way for the road.

The Parsi community has been concerned about the fate of the heritage structure, but the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), in a reply to a Right to Information (RTI) query on August 28, confirmed the plan to move it.

The community members are now concerned about the damage that may be caused to the structure during relocation, and whether the BMC will bring it back to its original place.

The RTI response said, “MCGM is well aware that Parsi Gate has significant religious importance to the Parsi community and hence, must be protected. Parsi Gate will be temporarily removed and after completion of the Coastal Road work, permanent rehabilitation will be carried out on the newly-constructed promenade.”

The removal and restoration of the monument, it said further, will be done “in a systematic manner” under the guidance and with permission from the heritage cell and Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee, so it can be reinstated and shifted “in the form in which it is present today, without diminishing its historical importance.”

Community member Rayomand Zaiwala, who filed the RTI, said his biggest concern is whether the BMC will protect the structure and bring it back to the same spot. “It has been there for the past 100 years. Our ancestors have prayed there during the holy month of Ava in March,” Mr. Zaiwala said.

He said the Goddess Ava presides over all the water bodies and is known as the giver of good health and wealth. “Parsis offer their prayers to the water from the gate,” he said.

Another community member, Viraf Kapadia said, once the structure is moved, the community can hardly do anything about it.

“They keep saying it is being done in the larger public interest. The community faced a similar response when it protested against the Metro tunnels passing under two fire temples,” Mr. Kapadia said. Any old structure like the Parsi Gate cannot be removed without causing damage, he said.

A BMC official said they are open to suggestions from the community on removing the structure without causing damage.

“We will assist the community in any way possible. Once the coastal road work is completed, restoring the structure back to its original location will not be a problem,” he said.

The work on the coastal road is currently at a halt. On July 17, the Bombay High Court asked the civic body to stop work till fresh environmental clearances are obtained. The Supreme Court on July 26 refused to stay the High Court’s decision.