Four years after promising to restore the city’s heritage fountains, BMC will commence work on the Khada Parsi fountain at the onset of this financial year; work on Flora Fountain will also begin this year
Over four years have passed since the BMC announced its plan to restore the city’s heritage fountains to pristine condition, and the long wait is finally over for the city’s oldest Parsi gentleman — the 151-year-old cast iron Khada Parsi, or the statue of Shet Cursetjee Manockjee – standing tall at the Byculla flyover junction. If all goes well, the civic body will begin working on the fountain at the beginning of this financial year, to help it regain some of its lost glory. Also on the rolls is a facelift for the iconic Flora Fountain.
BMC workers have already begun the delicate process of restoring the Khada Parsi fountain, which has been in a deplorable condition for years. City architect Pankaj Joshi is hard at work overseeing plans for the restoration work
Sadly, the structure, which is one of the most representative emblems of the city, attracts the attention of passersby not just for its statuesque beauty, but also for its squalid condition. The metal used for the edifice have suffered erosion owing to their prolonged exposure to the elements, and chunks have also gone missing.
"Street urchins use the structure to dry clothes and store belongings, making it look worse. The lamps would be restored along with the structure," confirmed a BMC official. The total cost of the project is an estimated Rs 1.16 crore.
The blockages in the Flora Fountain’s pipeline have led to the proliferation of moss and algae on the fa ade, which has formed a thick coat on its surface. Work on the Flora Fountain, however, is yet to be planned. "The group leaders had cleared the proposal, but it hasn’t yet been forwarded to the heritage department. Once it is sent, it would be sent for recommendations to the heritage committee, and then needs final clearance from the standing committee," said
A Sabnis, heritage conservationist engineer at BMC. He added that though the process was yet to be initiated, work on the Flora Fountain would commence this year itself. "The architects have been given a period of six months to complete the work, after which they will be in charge of maintenance for the following five years," said Sabnis.
The anticipated project cost for Flora Fountain is Rs 1.5 crore. The BMC has made several pledges to clean up the city’s statues and fountains, but has failed to deliver on its promises repeatedly. Ruttonsee Muljee Fountain in Fort market, Wellington Fountain in Colaba, and two fountains at Crawford Market designed by Rudyard Kipling’s father Lockwood Kipling were some fountains on the list of statues that were promised facelifts, but are still lying in shambles. "After work on these major fountains begin, we would slowly start taking up the restoration work of smaller ones also," informed Sabnis.
Statues still in shambles
Last year, the civic body had decided to maintain statues in the city after receiving a lot of flak for their despicable condition. Needless to say, no such clean-up activity ensued. In another setback, the municipal commissioner had asked the consultants appointed for the project to cut down their charges from 7.5 per cent to only 5 per cent.