Corporation eyes Church Land for Road Widening

The church built in 1872 is caters to some 14,000 parishioners and was listed in the recently proposed heritage list.

We appreciate Fr. Austin’s Initiative to save the Church Land. This notice has been served by BMC a long time ago. A pipeline has already been laid through Church property a year ago, which should have not been allowed in the first place. We blame Parish authorities for this mess. Parish Priest, Fr. Ajit Bandekar had been too secretive and was relying on his chosen few. Hope, Fr. Austin Norris does not continue to depend on the same chosen ones, but take entire parish into confidence.

Posted on September 18, 2012, 8:29 AM


Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation

Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation               (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A parish in Mumbai is opposing a move by the municipal corporation to take over its land in the name of road widening.

The Bombay Municipal Corporation (BMC) recently served a notice to the St Anthony’s Church in Malwani, Malad (W), to hand over its “open plot” for widening a road that passes through the area.

The church built in 1872 is caters to some 14,000 parishioners and was listed in the recently proposed heritage list.

Parish priest Father Austen Norris has written to the BMC that its September 1 notice stands null and void as the church figures in the corporation’s own heritage list.

The land demanded by the corporation has a grotto, a compound wall and the residence for priests.

The notice to the church has upset Christians in the area.

Fr. Norris expressed anguish over the demand and said the church uses the so-called open land to conduct Mass and other church services on bigger occasions.

“We appeal to the ward office to give us justice,” the priest told The Times of India.

R. Fernandes, a parishioner and a lawyer, cited a government police that bars demolition of any structure in a property declared as heritage. If the corporation doesn’t agree, “we will have to take legal course of action,” he added.

Anil Joseph, who was part of the 2006 protest against the corporation’s acquisition notices for churches, said urged the civic body not to hurt “the religious sentiments of the people and give respect to their own heritage tag.”

D. Jain, an official of the corporation, said the church had agreed in 1980 to hand over land for read widening.

“It’s an open space that has been extended. My engineers have told me that the part of land doesn’t fall under the purview of heritage norms,” he added.

In a similar incident in 2006, the corporation sent notices to St. Peter’s Church, St Andrew’s Church and Parsi Agiary in Bandra.

The churches would have lost family graves, grotto and the Holy Cross, which were in existence for hundreds of years. Bandra residents formed a human chain around the agiary when the demolition squad arrived. After political intervention, the BMC realigned the road.


Bombay Municipal Corporation , BMC , Church Land , Mumbai , Road Widening , St Anthony’s Church , Malad

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