The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) is up against a new challenge now, with the Parsi community demanding a change in the Metro 3 alignment at Girgaum. The community, through an online petition, has raised objections to the alignment passing below their fire temples in Girgaum and Fountain. The petition received 3,154 signatures within five hours of it being kicked off.
Members of the community are worried that building the Metro tunnel below their fire temples — especially the ones on Jagannath Sunkersett Road, Wadiaji Atash Behram and Anjuman Atash Behram — will not only impact their structural stability but also affect their sanctity.
“In case of the Wadiaji Fire Temple, part of the tunnel will actually pass under the Sanctum Sanctorum where the holy Fire is enthroned. Both these holy fires are consecrated entities; living vibrant beings who are intermediaries between God and mankind…To keep these holy entities safe from physical and spiritual pollution, they are segregated from the outside world by magnetic circuits which are drawn at the time of their enthronement,” reads the petition filed on Change.org.
It adds: “Once the tunnel for the Metro is dug under the premises, the magnetic circuits will be breached and the negative forces of physical and spiritual pollution will attack the holy fires with full force, thus diminishing their spiritual powers. The fires will also lose their connection with the divine forces operating under the earth’s surface from which they draw sustenance. If these Holy Fires are defiled, the backlash from Nature will not spare those responsible!”
The Metro 3 tunnel will also pass below the Dadysett Agiary at Hutatma Chowk and the Bhikha Behram Well near Azad Maidan. The petition raises concern for their safety too.
“We have seen the effects of the piling work at Cuffe Parade with excessive noise and vibrations. If the Metro is going too close to our Fire Temples, it will not be good for the fire, and the sanctity of the place will be lost. There are only eight Atash Behrams in the country and of them, two are here. It is made of 16 fires and they should not affect it,” said Havovi Sukhadwala, a signatory to the petition.
Meanwhile, Pervez Cooper, vice-president of Clean Heritage Colaba Residents Association (CHCRA), has also begun a signature campaign at various temples and Parsi colonies in the city and plans to submit the letter containing them to Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray next week.
“We are a peace loving community and have never demanded anything. But this will affect the sanctity of our temple,” said Cooper. His wife Shaheen Cooper added: “Fire is the most holy to us and if it is desecrated it will not go down well with us. I am sure with some adjustments they can avoid this damage.”
Advocate Jamshed Mistry suggested that a committee should be formed to examine the issue. “While planning projects, these aspects must be considered. I am sure once an expert committee looks into the matter, a solution can be brought out,” he said.
Khurshed Mistry, the secretary of Wadiaji Fire Temple, however, sounded a word of caution: “Unless we know the exact position of the tunnel, it is not right to reach conclusions. We have asked the MMRC to show us the exact position of the tunnel, we will then take a call.”