Housing is a matter that dogs Parsis as much as any other average Indian. Hitherto, it appeared they were safe under the roof of community colonies. But a discussion on the state of these neighbourhoods has revealed a concern within the community over the aging structures and how to deal with them.
Panelists, including developers and architects, who debated the matter at the 10th World Zoroastrian Congress on Monday stressed the need for a unified approach towards redevelopment.
Zareer Bhatena, who has developed the tallest Parsis-only tower in Mumbai, Boman Irani, chairman and managing director, Rustomjee builders, and Jimmy Mistree, a trustee of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet and himself a developer, said the community must look at this as a certainty.
“Redevelopment is a certainty, whether it happens now or later. The Bohri community is doing it by even buying properties where their community lives,” said Irani.
Irani argued that the essential water and power systems at the Baugs were old and responsible for an escalation in the costs. “Technology has moved ahead and we must move ahead with it.
So, the question is not whether to go for redevelopment but when.”
Zareer Bhatena said the government had initiated schemes and this was the right time for the community to grab the opportunity. “Tenants will get new houses with an extra room. This can solve the housing problems of the community to a great extent,” he said.
But some members in the audience voiced their apprehension over the suggestion about extra free space, saying that the density in the area would increase sharply. Others worried about delays in projects and the burden on infrastructure.
Jimmy Mistree said the Bombay Parsi Punchayet was considering ways to go forward. “How to raise capital, dealing with transferable tenancy, whether to build a corpus for the punchayet, or simply make houses for the poor, were some issues it is looking at,” he said.