MMRCL shakes Parsi hopes for quick resolution to Metro row

Updated: Sep 27, 2018, 11:13 IST | Arita Sarkar

A day after offering an out-of-court meeting to discuss options, MMRCL yesterday stated it would review the alternatives and decide whether the meeting was required

MMRCL shakes Parsi hopes for quick resolution to Metro row
The current Metro III alignment threatens to pass right under Wadiaji Atash Behram's inner sanctum

The Parsi community's hopes for a quick and amicable resolution to the Metro III-versus-Atash Behram row may not come to fruition. The community had looked forward to the out-of-court meeting assured by the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) on Tuesday.

During the meeting, they hoped to agree on one of the eight alternatives they proposed for the underground Metro's alignment so that there would be no danger to the two fire temples — Wadiaji Atash Behram and Anjuman Atash Behram.

However, the agency's legal representatives changed their stand and said that their experts will give remarks on the eight alternatives, after which they will decide whether or not to hold the meeting with the community members. The discussion came up after Navroz Seervai, representing the Parsi community, asked when the meeting was to be scheduled. Members of the community had pinned their hopes on this crucial meeting.

'Will decide if it is required'
One of the advocates representing MMRCL said that the remarks would be given to the petitioners latest by Monday. "Depending on what they are, we'll then decide whether the meeting is required or not," he said.

Continuing his arguments, Anil Singh, the additional solicitor general, gave examples of other religious structures and claimed that they too were shifted to make way for development.

He cited the example of the Kalbadevi temple which was reportedly at Mahim around 300-400 years ago and was later shifted. Anil Anturkar, representing the MMRCL, later spoke about the technical precautions taken by MMRCL to ensure none of the buildings are damaged.

Countering MMRCL's arguments
Referring to the points raised earlier by Singh and Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, advocate general for the state government, Seervai said that it was an ill-founded argument that the importance of Atash Behrams should be mentioned in scriptures. He countered Kumbhakoni's argument that by claiming protection under Article 25 of the Constitution, the Parsi community is violating Article 21 (right to life) for lakhs of people who will benefit from the Metro.

Seervai asked, "When considering the balance, it doesn't mean the destruction of one fundamental right over another. Can we not achieve Article 21 by merely shifting the tunnel by 4 metres?"

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