Parsis: The Zoroastrians of India Pakistan and The World

Parsis in Mumbai move SC to realign Metro-3 tunnel below Atash Behrams

A special leave petition was filed challenging the HC order, which was mentioned before Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi.

Article by Yesha Kotak | Hindustan Times

Three days after the Bombay high court (HC) rejected their petition, members of the Parsi community moved the Supreme Court (SC) on Monday, seeking the realignment of a tunnel for the Metro-3 line that goes below two revered fire temples in the city.

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A special leave petition was filed challenging the HC order, which was mentioned before Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi. The case is listed for an urgent hearing on Friday.“The [Metro] work goes on at a speed of 6 to 10 metres a day and the tunnel boring machine (TBM) is 100 metres away from Anjuman Atash Behram currently.

In 12 to 15 days, the TBM can be next to the fire temple, which is why we moved the Supreme Court when the stay wasn’t granted,” said Jamshed Sukhadwala, the petitioner in this case, who is represented by a team of lawyers headed by Zerick Dastur.

According to the petition, the Metro tunnel will affect the spiritual sanctity of the Atash Behram and could also cause structural damage to the heritage structure of two fire temples, Wadiaji Atash Behram and Anjuman Atash Behram at Princess Street and Kalbadevi respectively.

Atash Behram is the title accorded to the highest grade of consecrated fire in Zoroastrianism. The Wadiaji Atash Behram is 188 years old while the Anjuman Atash Behram is 121 years old. They are among eight Atash Behrams in India, four of which are in Mumbai.

The HC had accepted an expert panel report that recommended tunnelling be carried out with certain safeguards in place to ensure no damage is caused to the temples.

As per the existing Metro plans, the tunnel, which is part of the 45-km Colaba-Bandra-Seepz underground Metro-3 route, passes within the premises of these two fire temples. The community has asked for a seven and half metre realignment, of which three and a half metres has been approved.

However, the community wants the tunnel to not be under the premises of the Atash Behrams and instead be laid out outside the temple’s boundary wall.

Parsis take Atash Behram fight to SC

Article by Arita Sarkar | Mid Day

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After the Bombay high court (HC) on November 30 allowed the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) to continue with the construction of the tunnel underneath the two Atash Behrams, the legal team representing the Parsi community filed a petition regarding the matter in the Supreme Court (SC) on Monday.

Apart from appealing against the HC judgment, the legal team comprising Advocate Zerick Dastur has sought a stay on the Metro construction work. “We have filed a special leave petition (SPL) challenging the Bombay HC order in the Atash Behram case before the Supreme Court. The matter was mentioned before the Chief Justice of India. The SC has placed it for urgent hearing on Friday,” Dastur said.

During the hearing on November 30, the bench comprising Chief Justice Naresh Patil and Justice R G Ketkar had turned down Senior Counsel Navroz Seervai’s request to extend the stay on Metro construction work for a couple of weeks until they could file a petition in the SC.

The community members are of the opinion that while the HC did not find their argument that the spiritual circuits of the Atash Behrams would be breached if the tunnel passed from underneath the fire temples “convincing and logical”, the judges did not even consider the structural aspect of it. “We are not against development. To resolve this issue amicably and to prevent further delay of the project, we had proposed eight alternative stations. But MMRC vehemently opposed it and even the court did not consider the same,” said Jamshed Sukhadwalla, the chief petitioner in the case.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, another member of the legal counsel said that while the grounds for the case would remain the same as mentioned in the writ petition, the SLP referred to the findings of the HC order.

“We were hoping that there would be some appreciation for the evidence. The HC judgment, however, has not considered any of the evidence that we put on record. This has been mentioned in the petition,” added the member.

Meanwhile, the HC judgment has allowed MMRCL to start construction of the tunnel underneath the Anjuman and Wadiaji Atash Behrams, but has added certain conditions. Apart from ensuring that no damage is caused to the Atash Behrams, the MMRC has been asked to adopt control-blasting method for boring tunnels, installing equipment to monitor levels of vibrations and water level of the wells among others.