IN THE narrow lanes of the 1,000-year-old Vesave village, the lament is not different from those in other pockets of the city that were sylvan until not so long ago — that the rapid onslaught of urbanisation has robbed the little fishing village of its character.
The difference in Vesave, however, is that with news of celebrities’ bungalows in the locality found to have encroached upon mangroves, the subject of urbanisation that has cost them their livelihood is a truly sore topic.
While Coastal Regulation Zone norms imply that fishermen cannot reconstruct their homes, that builders have turned the former Vesave gaon into the now hip and bustling suburb of Versova is a matter of deep consternation.
“Urbanisation has ruined the charm of Versova. Earlier the village used to be the peaceful, a spotless place, but now outsiders have occupied the place and have built their sheds. It is not a village any more, it’s more a slum,” says Bhagwan Bhanaji, a fisherman who lives in Vesave village.
Vesave was once an island, surrounded by the creek where villagers would take their little fishing boats out.
With big builders having taken up large plots in the western suburbs and other areas taken up for building roads, the creek water is now polluted and availability of fish severely hit, say locals.
What remains of Vesave gaon remains quaint, but the small village-style homes are fast giving way to the slum sprawl of tin and tarpaulin sheets.
Villagers say they have evidence Vesave was in existence even 10 centuries ago. And a centuries long tradition of fishing has only recently been endangered, since the 1970s, when waste from the area began to be dumped along the sea shore or released into the sea.
“Forty years ago, when there was not so much urbanisation still, we used to go into the creek for fishing. That same creek is now encroached with structures built on it,” says Mahendra Ladge, another fisherman, adding that they once got diverse breeds of fish and crab from the creek, now completely unavailable.
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