Chaos and Nuisance Reign Outside JJ Agiary in Pune


February 18, 2023

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Devout Parsis visiting the Sir Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy Agiary on Dastur Meher Road in the Pune Camp area have been sending up a silent prayer for freedom from the chaos prevailing outside their sacred place due to the presence of illegal hawkers.

The community members, known for being peaceful and honest, told Mirror that their long-pending demand to relocate the vendors to another area has been falling on deaf ears of the Pune Cantonment Board (PCB).

A vada-pav centre, close to the gate of the 179-year-old fire temple, is the prominent food stall among many that are doing a roaring business. Customers lining up for the ‘Indian burger’ outnumber those turning up for ‘lassi’ or fruit juice. The rush at any given time of the day leads to traffic jams on the Dastur road and leaves little space for Parsis to enter or exit the place.

Article by Vicky Pathare | Pune Mirror



Community members say vendors on the pavement near the sacred place leave no space for pedestrians, allege their pleas with PCB falling on deaf ears; doing whatever is possible within our capacity, says board official



Sir Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy Agiary

The fire temple, which has a huge garden, is a popular venue amongst the city’s Parsis, with weddings and Navjote ceremonies (ritual for being inducted into Zoroastrianism) being hosted each year.

The compound also houses an air-conditioned banquet hall and a plush six-room residential facility, called Maneck Baug. While access to the agiary for worship is restricted, the garden is open to the general public.

Arguments with visitors to the sacred place are a routine affair due to the haphazard parking of vehicles by customers and crowding of the footpath and the road.


The scene at the vada-pav centre outside the sacred place.

Mehar Banoo, a senior citizen and area resident, claims she had complained to the PCB but any action has been taken against the illegal hawkers. “The elected members are mainly behind encroachers thriving in the Camp area. There was only one vadapav stall on the pavement near the temple. Now, many food vendors and juice stalls have occupied the footpath. The number is growing, which is a cause for concern,” she told Mirror.

“There is another temple in the Bhopla chowk area in Pune Camp and it has been declared a no-hawker zone. We want the campus around the agiary to be declared as a no-hawker zone. The PCB should rehabilitate the vendors, so that they don’t face hardships in the form of loss of business,” said Banoo.

“Some visitors to the temple face verbal abuse by customers,” said a citizen, adding: “A similar incident happened on Wednesday. A visitor to the temple had a heated argument with the hawkers and the customers of an illegal food stall.”

Shahrukh Irani, former trustee of Pune Parsi Panchayat, said, the problem is serious and there is no one to take action. “The encroachers are informed well in advance by the PCB people before the action. The vada-pav stall on the pavement has been operating illegally. Now ‘lassi’ and fruit juice stalls and many others have joined in. The entire pavement is crowded and the road too,” he said.

Irani said haphazard parking by the customers visiting the food vendors pose a risk to motorists. “Ahead of the JJ Garden, near the Taboot Street chowk, there are over 30 to 40 handcarts selling clothes. They run away whenever the anti- encroachment team of the PCB arrives, creating chaos. I was hurt during one such incident. However, the PCB action is just an eyewash. The hawkers get information about the action well in advance.”

According to the citizens, most roads in the Camp area have been illegally occupied. Hawkers and illegally parked vehicles have taken over footpaths. “Hawkers no longer fear the PCB and police due to the system of bribes,” said Vaibhav Patel, a senior citizen.

When contacted by Mirror, Riyaz Shaikh, the head of the PCB’s health and sanitation department who heads the anti-encroachment drives, said, “We don’t have a dedicated department for anti-encroachment drive. We take action with the existing team. Many times, we face strong opposition from the hawkers. Despite repeated action, the encroachers return to their spots. I will look into the issue near the fire temple and take the required action,” he said.

“We have dismantled over 100 handcarts of encroachers. Out of those, around 30 handcarts were seized from the Taboot Street chowk itself. We agree that illegal hawkers have started mushrooming everywhere. However, we are taking action as per our capacity and will continue to do so,” added Shaikh.