A group of concerned citizens have started an online petition to save the Parsi Gate at Marine Drive in south Mumbai, which is likely to be relocated by the BMC for the upcoming coastal road.
Article by Nauzer Bharucha | Times Of India
The petition states the over a century-old gate, built by Pallonji Mistry and philanthropist Bhagojisheth Kheer in 1915, has been in existence before Marine Drive was built.
“The gate is carved with Zoroastrian motifs and made of Malad stone with steps between them to access the beach now called Chotta Chowpatty where all Mumbaikars could offer their prayers and offerings to the sea,” said Havovi Sukhadwala, who initiated the petition.
“Zoroastrians of Mumbai have been paying their respect to Avan Yazad (water deity) for more than a century at the Parsi Gate located at Marine Drive. Hindus particularly use this safe access constructed to immerse the offerings on Poornima and ashes from the Chandanwadi crematorium at Marine Lines,” it said.
The petition said the gate was identified as a religious place of worship in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report of 2016 of the Mumbai Coastal Road project which the BMC has now decided to remove and relocate one km away.
“Furthermore, all buildings, monuments located at Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Road are designated as Marine Drive Precinct under Regulation 67 of the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, 1966. The Parsi Gate is also part of Marine Drive Waterfront which is separately listed as Grade IIA under serial number 23 in the supplement to existing heritage list (DCR-67) dated 31st July 2012,’’ it said.
“By definition of law, the Parsi Gate, a designated Heritage Grade IIA structure, deserves intelligent conservation” and any “external changes are subject to scrutiny”. The definition further states, “care would be taken to ensure the conservation of all special aspects for which it is included in Heritage Regulations for Greater Bombay 1995,” said the petition.
Sukhadwala said the BMC has not sought an NOC from the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee. “The Parsi Gate is indeed the work of master craftsmen, whose labour of love has withstood the vastitude of the Arabian Sea, as admired by anyone who has stood at the Parsi Gate. Any permission to the “external changes” has to be secured by the Planning Authority in consultation with the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee,’’ she said.
The BMC is still undecided on shifting the early 20th century Parsi Gate opposite the Taraporewala aquarium at Marine Drive for the coastal road.
BMC officials recently told TOI that no decision has been taken whether to relocate the gate temporarily or permanently. “There is a section within the Parsi community which is opposed to the pillars being shifted as they claim the spot has religious significance,’’ he said. This group insisted that the pillars be shifted temporarily and installed at the same location after the coastal road work is completed.