Lanterns defunct for long, ward office awaits fire brigade NOC for gas supply.
A whopping Rs 2 crore was spent to restore it in 2014. Four years later, the iconic Khada Parsi statue standing at the traffic intersection of Byculla Bridge has again lost its glow, literally.
The lamps, a key feature of the 40-feet tall statue that was originally installed in the 1860s, do not light up anymore in the absence of supply of gas. The local ward office said that they cannot ensure piped gas supply for the lanterns without the approval of the fire brigade. A letter has been written to the fire brigade, which is yet to issue an NOC.
Although the fountain at the base of the statue is operational, a plan to install CCTV cameras and deploy security guards to prevent thefts of the gas lanterns, which were earlier stolen once, is gathering dust.
“We had designed a storage area for gas cylinders that would have supplied fuel to the lamps. But the fire brigade rejected the proposal. We later proposed a piped gas connection. I don’t know what happened to it,” said an official from the building construction department that executed the restoration work in 2014.
At present, E ward office, located at a stone’s throw from the statue, looks after the statue’s maintenance.
When contacted, assistant municipal commissioner of the ward Sahebrao Gaikwad said, “We are awaiting an NOC for supply of piped gas to the lanterns from the fire brigade, following which the lamps will be lit. We are hoping it will happen soon.”
Mumbai Mirror had first reported in 2009 about the BMC’s plan to refurbish the century-old statue, which was erected in memory of the illustrious Parsi, Shet Cursetjee Manockjee, in the 1860s.
His youngest son, Manockjee Cursetjee, shelled out Rs 20,000 — a princely sum those days — to build the statue.
After the restoration work in June 2014, new water and gas connections were laid for the statue, a Grade I heritage structure. The eight lamp burners would use 8 kg gas per hour. The BMC then decided to put up a fence and CCTV cameras around the statue in 2015 after it came to the fore that statue’s periphery had turned into a druggies’ den.
That proposal is yet to see the light of the day. “The statue has been taken over by the homeless. Its security is a big issue. The BMC should form a separate cell to maintain such heritage structures. The gas lamps have been lying defunct for a long time now. I will pursue the matter with the authorities,” said SP leader Rais Shaikh, who is the local corporator.
Who is Khada Parsi?
The iconic statue was erected in the memory of Shet Cursetjee Manockjee, the illustrious Parsi who founded one of the first schools for girls in Mumbai, now called Alexandra Girls English Institution. His youngest son spent Rs 20,000, a substantial sum in those days, on the statue, which was built in parts in London. The components were shipped and assembled in India. Years later, the family gifted the statue to the BMC on the condition that it would be maintained. But the structure fell into a state of neglect as flyovers came up around it.