Metro 3: Tunnelling may put 85 Girgaum bldgs in danger
Christians Fear Work Will Affect Iconic Church
Mumbai: The Metro III underground tunnel planned to run underneath Jagannath Shankarsheth Road, Girgaum, could affect many more old buildings than previously thought, including the ancient St Teresa’s Church, TOI has learnt.
Documents procured under RTI from Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) show of the 348 buildings surveyed between Jer Mahal near Metro cinema junction and Opera House, 85 were identified to be in “severe’’ and “very severe” condition. Asked what the terms denoted, structural experts said that it meant these 85 buildings, which fall within the influence zone of the rail tunnel, have severe cracks and could be in danger during tunnelling and excavation work.
The church building is not one of the 85 structures, but as the MMRC’s alignment map for Girgaum shows the tunnel will pass underneath this landmark religious site dating back to the late 18th century, members of the local Christian community said they will protest.
Metro rail authorities had earlier announced that 19 buildings in Girgaum will be demolished as they come in the way of the project.
MMRC MD Ashwini Bhide and project director S K Gupta did not reply to a questionnaire on the matter sent by TOI. Instead, their spokesperson said they will not respond to the queries.
Father Anthony Fernandes of St Teresa’s Church said that Parsis, protesting against the tunnel running under their fire temples, and Christians must come on a common platform and fight together. “This is a serious situation. How can they do Upendra Rao| this?” he told TOI. Fernandes said that churches in Chennai too had developed cracks during the Metro construction in that city.
Bosco Fernandes, the 80year-old architect who had restored the church in the past, said he was “shocked.” “The community will be upset when they learn about it,” he added. The architect said when buses pass through the road, “we can feel the vibrations on the community hall above the church.” and two pieces of chapel land to the Vicar Apostolic of Bombay In 1912, the chapel was completely renovated It was raised to the status of a parish church when the new parish of St Teresa was created on March 12, 1941
The St Teresa’s Church in Girgaum was originally a private chapel dedicated to St Joseph and St Teresa. It was raised to the status of a parish church when the new parish of St Teresa was created on March 12, 1941(see graphic).
Fashion designer James Ferreira, who lives nearby in Khotachi Wadi, said, “It is sickening how the authorities are deciding projects without public consultation. Plans are being passed arbitrarily. It is appalling.” Ferrei- ra said this issue “affects each and every one of us.”
As local Christians said they will consult the South Bombay Church group on this crisis, other Girgaum residents living along Jagannath Shankarsheth Road warn that most buildings here are in a dilapidated condition and are in imminent danger. “Metro rail authorities must strengthen these buildings before construction commences,” said architect Upendra Rao, who has studied the Metro III plans. “Girgaum has old and dilapidated buildings, which are in poor condition because of lack of maintenance,” he added.
Rao said that house gullies between the buildings are infested with rodents, which have eaten into the foundation of buildings in Girgaum. “They will be susceptible to collapse in case of heavy vibration or control-blasting of rocks while laying the tunnel. This is extremely dangerous in a highly congested area such as Girgaum,” the architect warned.
Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant said his party wanted all buildings likely to be damaged by the Metro construction to be redeveloped.
Early this year, the Metro rail corporation announced a Rs700 core plan to undertake the rehabilitation of projectaffected tenants of 19 buildings in the Girgaum-Kalbadevi belt.
Tenants will be moved out once formalities like the procuring of no- objection certificates from the housing authority, Mhada, are completed and compensation paid to landlords.
Part of the lands of impacted buildings in KalbadeviGirgaum would be utilized by the rail corporation for construction of underground Metro stations, ancillary works, ventilation shafts, entry/exit structures and other related activities. The redevelopment of properties will be undertaken simultaneously in the remaining lands and after completion will be allotted to the project-affected families by 2021.
The St Teresa’s Church is one of SoBo and Girgaum’s landmarks
Work in progress next to old buildings