Parsis: The Zoroastrians of India Pakistan and The World

Update on the Udvada Land Issue

The below is a communique by The Udvada Samast Anjuman.

Udvada Samast Anjuman has earlier on October 21, 2010 and November 02, 2011 released updates to the media on the threat faced to Shreeji Pak Iranshah by the proposed commercial / residential development.

Before we provide an update on the developments to date (February 09,2010), it is necessary for us to mention that Udvada Samast Anjumandoes not subscribe to nor is responsible for updates provided by individuals or organisations through press, electronic or any othermedia, howsoever well intended they may be. The suggestions and recommendations made in such releases do not bind or commit the UdvadaSamast Anjuman in any manner. Udvada Samast Anjuman is responsible only for the official updates that are released by them.

Individuals and representatives of organisations are earnestly requested to refrain from circulating reports and updates in thematter through media or internet. Updates will be issued by Udvada Samast Anjuman as and when necessary.

The reason for Udvada Samast Anjuman opposing the development revolves around the fact that Udvada is a small village with a population ofjust around 7000 individuals, where civic amenities and facilities available are the very bare minimum. Lack of a proper sewerage systemcoupled with the ingress of the sea will accelerate the process of salination of the fresh water wells in the Atashbehram complex andthereby bring to a standstill higher liturgical ceremonies such as yashna, vendidad etc from being performed? Inability to performreligious ceremonies such as yashna or vendidad will be disastrous. Commercial development of the type proposed would therefore have grave consequences for our sacred Shreeji Pak Iranshah.

Further, commercialisation on the massive scale envisaged and the resulting increase in nearly doubling of the population will placeenormous strain on other already overstretched civic facilities such as drinking water, power generation etc.

Udvada Samast Anjuman found it surprising that whilst in normal circumstances change of tenure of land from ‘agricultural land to nonagricultural’ is a long drawn out process, in the present case the same was done speedily. Udvada Samast Anjuman therefore decided totake up the matter with the district authorities and the Government of Gujarat to enquire into the speedy manner in which the tenure of theland was changed from agriculture to non agriculture and that too so very close to sacred Shreeji Pak Iranshah. The authorities have beenreminded that they had some years earlier designated Udvada as ‘Pavitra Yatradham’ on account of Shreeji Pak Iranshah being locatedthere.

The Collector of Valsad District understanding that the religious sentiments of the community were outraged and appreciating the dangerposed to Shreeji Pak Iranshah overturned the permission given by the local authorities to change the tenure of the property fromagriculture to non-agriculture. However, Nucleus Developers Pvt. Ltd., in an appeal filed before the Gujarat Revenue Tribunal (GRT) had theorder of the Collector set aside, albeit with a caveat that status quo as on date of order be maintained.

The present position is that the matter has been argued before the GRT who appreciating the stand taken by Udvada Samast Anjuman have grantedrelief in our favour and passed an order on January 06, 2011 stating that ‘status quo’ be maintained, till final hearing and disposal ofthe suit.

It must be mentioned that the Government of Gujarat, the District Administration of Valsad (in which district Udvada is situated),senior secretaries and officers of concerned state government departments at Gandhinagar have all been very understanding andappreciative of the religious sentiments of our community. The Hon’ble Chief Minister of Gujarat Mr. Narendra Modi is fully apprised of the situation and ongoing developments in the matter. Mr. Narendra Modi, officials of Government of Gujarat and the District Administrationhave proved to be real friends of the community. We owe a deep debt of gratitude to all of them. We are indeed most grateful to them all.

Udvada Samast Anjuman takes this opportunity to clear the misconception that prevails in the minds of some of our community thatthe property in question that is sought to be redeveloped, earlier belonged to us and we had some years ago sold it to a non Zoroastrian,who in turn has now sold it to Nucleus Developers Pvt. Ltd.

It is to be clarified that the property in question (approx 200 acres) has never ever belonged to Udvada Samast Anjuman. Earlier ownership ofapprox. 38 acres vested with Shree Baug-e-Iranshah Trust the Trustees of which were (1) Dasturji Dr. Hormazdiar Kayoji Mirza, (2) Mr. SohrabJehangirji Chiniwalla, (3) Dr. Homi Ratansha Bana, (4) Mrs. Khorshed Kaikhushroo Dubash. The Trustee of Shree Baug-e-Iranshah Trust soldthe property on 4th April 1966 to Mr. Jamnadas Nagardas Modi, and the same has now been purchased by the said Nucleus Developers Pvt. Ltd.

It was indeed very heartening to witness so many of our community members rallying behind the cause of safeguarding Shreeji PakIranshah, either in their personal capacities or through various institutions. More than 5,000 individuals signed, within three weeks,the online petition that was circulated to create awareness to the problem. The community media in Mumbai regularly published the variousupdates that were sent for which we are very grateful. Indian mainline media too, sympathetic to the cause has published balanced reports.Community journals published from overseas such as Hamazor & Fezana Journal have requested for updates to keep their readers informedabout the developments. Literally, hundreds of e-mail messages committing support to the cause were extensively circulated. Lettersfrom various institutions pledging their support are with us.

Sincere thanks are due to each and everyone who has rallied behind the cause of safeguarding our revered Shreeji Pak Iranshah.Udvada Samast Anjuman especially thanks Dasturjis (High Priests) of Mumbai, Navsari & Surat who have joined our two Dasturjis and beenunanimous and steadfast in their support.

It would be a failure on our part if we did not make a special mention of three individuals, each of them an eminent industrialist andphilanthropist of Gujarat, namely Mr. Behram Mehta, (Aava Mineral Water), Mr. Jehangir Cama (Cama Hotels) & Mrs. Homai Engineer(Industrial Boilers) whose support, involvement, commitment and dedication towards safeguarding the sanctity and solemnity of ShreejiPak Iranshah has been without parallel and invaluable.

Senior Advocate Rustom Marshall and his team also deserve praise for the sincerity and devotion with which they have taken up the cause ofprotecting Shreeji Pak Iranshah in the courts. Similarly, we must in the same vein acknowledge the outstanding assistance that the twoyoung ‘heritage architects’ Mr. Pankaj Joshi & Mr. Jamshed Bhiwandiwalla have been rendering to the cause by making their experience and expertise available in planning and coordinating withthe government authorities in bringing Udvada on the Heritage map of India. Special thanks are also due local residents Mr. ManeckTadiwala, his son Eric and Mr. Rohinton Irani for the support extended at the village level.May Shreeji Pak Iranshah continue to shower His blessings on our community and all mankind for all time to come.


For & on behalf of Udvada Samast Anjuman,

The Secretary.


Registration No: CG108-Valsad

Mirza Street, Udvada 396 180.

February 09, 2011