Many right-thinking Parsees were alarmed to read a news report in MIDDAY dated 18th December 2002 that a huge amount of Rs.1.25 crores has been donated by the Central and Gujarat Governments for "the preservation of Udvada Town" and that the project has been entrusted to a "core group of eminent Parsis".
While it is generous on the part of these two Governments to express concern about the pilgrimage centre of the Parsees, it is very strange and alarming how the 6 Parsees - all from Mumbai - who form the 'core group', were either selected or nominated. Who recommended their names? Was the Udvada Athornan Anjuman, which looks after the daily administration of Holy Fire Iranshah, consulted or referred to? What special credentials and qualifications do these Mumbai-based worthies have that many others throughout Gujarat and Mumbai don't? Those who are in the know of things are well aware that this is a classic case of what Parsees call "Gher no Ghambar" : 3 are Trustees of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet, 2 are Trustees of the World Zoroastrian Organisation (WZO) and the remaining have more than a sneaking sympathy for the WZO. The cat is out of the bag, when, at the end of your report, it is stated that till the group is registered as an NGO, the WZO will receive funds. The tentacles of WZO are being spread far and wide. In the first place, why are extra funds required at this stage when a handsome donation has been sanctioned by the two Governments. How has the WZO arrogated to itself the authority to collect funds for this project?
The Group wants to establish a museum/cultural centre, a tourist lodge, heritage walk and an annual festival for Parsees from around the world! What on earth are they upto? Udvada is a small sleepy town where human population is sparse and the atmosphere is very tranquil and ennobling. Holy Iranshah in Udvada has had that ambience for more than 250 years. Now, the WZO, as is its wont, wants its fancy British agenda to be perpetrated in this dinky town so as to make it commercially viable. The influx of hordes of people from all over will completely vitiate/destroy the sanctity and atmosphere in and around Holy Iranshah.
What Udvada really requires today is an improvement in the basic infrastructure: regular water supply, electricity, motorable roads, security, etc. Economic aid to the less fortunate Parsee residents, repairs to their dilapidated houses, security of senior citizens and their properties are also matters which require urgent attention. Solutions to these problems would go a long way in the protection and preservation of the most holy pilgrimage centre of the Parsees and to safeguard and perpetuate the Parsee ethos and way of life there.
We, therefore, earnestly appeal to-
* the authorities concerned not to release any funds at this stage to this core group;
* the Parsee Zoroastrians the world over not to fall for this gimmick and donate any money to the WZO.
Mr A F Doctor
Ervad K F Kerawalla
Mr R Kasad
Mr N Mukadam
Mr H M Mistry
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