Tower of Silence gets clean chit


November 21, 2006

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Customs | Heritage | History | News

By Nauzar Bharucha

Setting to rest the controversy over the Parsi Towers of Silence at Malabar Hill, the health department of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), which inspected the 65-acre wooded estate early this week, has ruled out any chance of a health hazard from the corpses lying there.

“There is no doubt that this place is 100% safe. There is no question of any health hazard,”BMC’s executive health officer Jairaj Thanekar told TOI He has submitted the report to municipal commissioner Johny Joseph.

Many in the community were aghast early this year when an old Parsi woman distributed illegally clicked pictures of corpses placed inside the Towers of Silence in a bid to to show that the place was a health hazard.

Thanekar was directed by the commissioner to inspect the property — popularly called Doongerwadi — after an anonymous letter was received by the civic administration, alleging that the Towers of Silence posed “grave danger of disease and epidemic”due to the absence of vultures.

The system followed by the Zoroastrians since thousands of years has lately come under pressure because the vultures have almost vanished, not only from the Towers of Silence (where the dead bodies are laid in Dakhmas or open wells) in

Mumbai but all over the country.

Many Parsis have alleged in private that the “smear”campaign against the system was unleashed by some vested interests within the community, who want the system to end so that the huge land can be opened up for some other purpose.