The city’s Parsi community staged a protest on Friday against a proposal by the Maharashtra Airport Development Company (MADC) that recommends that the no-flying zone be reduced from one nautical mile (around 1,852 metres) to 500 metres around the Tower of Silence or Doongerwadi in south Mumbai where the last rites of the departed are conducted.
The community fears that if the no-flying zone is reduced, the Doongerwadi will come within the sight of aircraft, which would be disrespectful to the dead. As per the proposal, if the Airports Authority of India realigns the restricted area, helicopters can use the path during emergencies or disasters.
“The proposal was put up with the view that during emergency situations, helicopters can ply the route. If somebody is supposed to reach the hospital during any disaster and if there is a traffic jam, helicopter services would prove useful. However, if the community does not want the fly zone there, we may have to stall the proposal. We require their NOC to go ahead with this proposal,” said an MADC official requesting anonymity. In protest to the proposal by MADC, the community marched from Bhikha Behram Well in Fort up to the Doongerwadi.
“This ritual of exposing the dead to scavenger birds has been followed since the British rule and according to it the dead body should not be exposed to any external aerial elements except the sun.should not be disturbed by external spaces,” said Pervez Cooper, vice-president of Clean Heritage Colaba Residents Association (CHCRA).