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Parsis start online petition to get Metro 3 tunnels realigned

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Appeal to PM to shift network under fire temples by 4 metres

The Parsi community has started an online petition addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding a slight shift of the tunnels of Mumbai Metro 3 that will pass from beneath two highest grade fire temples in the city. The petition started on Saturday evening and gathered nearly 3,000 signatures by Sunday.

“By shifting/realigning the tunnel by only 4 meters more, the spiritual sanctity of the Atash Behrams can be secured as the tunnel would then be outside [its] premises,” the petition says, adding that any damage or destruction of the holy temples will “devastate the religious sentiments of Zoroastrians worldwide.” The 188-year-old Wadia Atash Behram and 122-year-old Anjuman Atash Behram, located near the Princess Street Junction, house the highest grade of fire for the Parsis. There are only eight Atash Behrams in the world. “Fire is the central focus of the Zoroastrian forms of worship, ceremonies and rituals. Any interference underground by way of a tunnel running below the temple premises will result in their desecration and defilement. Such spiritual damage will be irreversible,” the petition adds.

The community has already sought legal recourse and the case is currently being heard by the Bombay High Court which has stayed digging work beyond the fire temple limits till September 18. “The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd has not been forthcoming with information and has been evasive. This lack of transparency pushed us to start the online campaign,” said Jamshed Sukhadwalla, a structural engineer and a petitioner in the court case. “We are getting support not only from the community members but from others too,” he said.

The fully underground Mumbai Metro III covers the Colaba-Bandra-SEEPZ corridor. The petition states that Kalbadevi station is proposed barely five meters away from Wadia Atash Behram for which techniques involving ‘controlled blasting’ may be used. “This threatens the structural safety of the Wadiaji Atash Behram. Further, the process of construction of the station will impact water levels in the wells of the Atash Behrams,” community members say.

Published on The Hindu