Airport development body’s proposal to reduce the prohibited zone around the Tower from 1nautical mile to 500 metres does not fly with Bombay Parsi Panchayat.
The Bombay Parsi Panchayat (BPP) is in a flutter over a request to revise flying restrictions near the Tower of Silence at Doongerwadi in Malabar Hill. The Maharashtra Airport Development Company Ltd (MADCL) has put forth a proposal to the Collector to reduce the ‘no fly zone’ around the Tower from 1 nautical mile (NM) to 500 metres.
The proposal, which would require an NOC from the Parsi community, states that if the prohibited area around the Tower is realigned by the Airports Authority of India (AAI), it would enable helicopters to use the path in emergencies and disaster situations.
This is obviously a sensitive issue for the Parsi-Irani-Zoroastrian community. In a letter to the Collector dated September 27, the BPP has said, “It’s in this place that our dear departed are laid to rest and the open air space above this area is critical for continuation of our long established and time tested method of the dead. We may point out that both in terms of visibility as well as affecting the bird (vulture) population over this area, this would be a critical concern for our community.”
It is due to these concerns that the Board of Trustees has not yet given their consent to the proposal.
The BPP plans to arrange a meeting between AAI officials and high priests and scholarly priests to discuss the issue. “By reducing the limits of the nofly zone, those flying on choppers would be able to see inside the tower of Silence and this is prohibited in our community,” said Yazdi Desai, chairman, BPP.
Suresh Kakani, vice chairman and managing director, MADCL, in his letter to the collector’s office, stated, “This proposal is also to facilitate new projects like the coastal road which will open aerial routes to support Mumbai. I request you to take up the matter of protected area around Tower of Silence from 1NM to 500 metres with the Parsi Panchayat to issue an NOC to the state government so that we could take up the matter with the minister of civil aviation, government of India.”
This proposal to reduce the limits of the no-fly-zone in Tower of Silence is also to provide helicopter facilities to Malabar Hill residents in case of medical emergencies and disaster situations, he said.
City collector Sampada Mehta said if the existing limit for chopper movement is reduced, it can not only be used for emergency services but also by dignitaries and VIPs. “At present, dignitaries make use of the landing and take off facility at Racecourse. So, if the existing limits for chopper movement are relaxed, it can be used for other purpose also. The Parsi Panchayat has communicated that they support social issues and will not come in the way of progress. But they want to consult their religious heads before arriving at a decision,” said Mehta.