Metro 3: Tun­nelling may put 85 Gir­gaum bldgs in dan­ger

Chris­tians Fear Work Will Af­fect Iconic Church

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - TIMES CITY - Nauzer.Bharucha @times­group.com

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.

Pics: Uma Kadam & San­jay Had­kar

The St Teresa’s Church is one of SoBo and Gir­gaum’s land­marks

Work in progress next to old build­ings

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