A proposal to build a multi-storey residential building near the Towers of Silence on Malabar Hill has caused concern among a section of Parsis. They worry that residents of the upper floors of these buildings will be able to see the bodies laid to rest in the towers.
The building is to come up inside Godrej Baug, a residential complex on the Western boundary of the doongerwadi. Though trustees of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP) — which manages both the Towers of Silence and Godrej Baug — said that the building plans are yet to be finalised, officials of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)’s building proposal department say they have given permission for a 11-storey building.
Levelling of the ground started two days ago and according to plans submitted to BMC by BPP, the new building will come up in Block M.
BPP trustee Dinshaw Tamboly says the time-limit granted for commencement of work was running out. “That’s why we’ve started work,” Tamboly says.
Another trustee Burjor Antia says the government could acquire the plot under Urban Land Ceiling Act if it was left undeveloped. “The plans were sanctioned a long time ago,” he says, “but we could not start construction because of shortage of funds.”
The existing 16 buildings in Godrej Baug are only four-storeys high.
A former BPP trustee says that one tower, Banaji Dokhma, was closed down 35 years ago after the Grand Paradi building came up nearby. “Upper floor residents could see the bodies and it was decided not to use the tower anymore,” the trustee says.
“Now there are worries that the other towers will be visible from the new building. It is a big concern for the community,” says religious scholar Khojeste Mistree. Others feared that debris from the construction site will be dumped in the forest where peacocks can be seen. “This is the only green belt in South Mumbai,” says Viraf Kapadia, a resident of Godrej Baug.