That the Parsis are the architects of developing the Bombay is not a overstatement. This community which is known for honesty and great entrepreneurship was encouraged by British to settle in Bombay from Gujarat. They have made an immense contribution to the city. Besides being the entrepreneurs, the Parsis have been great philanthropists and opened many hospitals, educational institutions and bridges for the populace of Bombay.
Although still they are a dominant force in the commerce, their population is dwindling which is matter of concern. There are many statues erected by them in the city in the memory of great persons. But some of them due to their location and increasing crowds and scramble for the whatever space is left unoccupied, some of these monuments are in a ruinous condition. For example, the iconic heritage landmark called “Khada Parsi” at Byculla bridge. If we compare the present picture with the original, we will come to know the state of utter neglect. There was a fountain at the bottom just like Flora fountain which is dry and does not work anymore. One the lamps has been stolen and has never been replaced. The hawkers sit around it. Due to the increased pollution from the vehicles, its brass work has been corroded.
The restoration work has yet to begin even after one year the project was approved. The statue is a Grade-I heritage urban installation, the restoration of which has been assigned to a panel of experts. Though the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had promised to restore the statue to its ‘original glory’, there is no sign that the statue will get a facelift soon.
“It’s a mess. By the time they finish constructing the flyovers, the statue will not even be visible. What’s the point in restoring it at such a place?” said Tasneem Mehta of the Indian National Trust For Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH). “The problem is that there is no respect for anything of heritage value. They should know how to blend the old with the new. We, as citizens, need to stand up to protect Mumbai’s heritage.” Mehta said the city needs an advisory panel like Delhi’s Urban Arts Commission.
Historian Sharada Dwivedi, who is on the committee of the Urban Design Research Institute, said, “We’ve been hearing of this project since over six years. If the BMC wants to save money and doesn’t care to restore the Khada Parsi and other fountains, let them rot. I know that a major bank had offered to pay for the restoration of Khada Parsi, but the BMC didn’t seem interested.”
The statue of Shet Cursetjee Manockjee was built by his son at a cost of Rs 20,000 in the 1860s.The family donated the statue to the municipal corporation with the understanding that it would be properly maintained.