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60m span between pillars sufficient: BMC counters fisherfolk’s report with oceanography institute submission

For over two months, between October 2021 and January this year, fisherfolk from Worli Koliwada prevented the contractor from beginning the construction of an interchange between the coastal road and the Worli end of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link.

Written by Sanjana Bhalerao | Mumbai |
Updated: May 19, 2022 7:41:31 am

Over two months after the Worli fisherfolk submitted the independent study report regarding the navigation span between the two pillars of the Coastal Road interchange, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Wednesday said that a report/comment they have received from the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) has stated that the distance between the pillars for the project proposed as 60 meters by the civic body is sufficient.

Chakradhar Kandalkar, chief engineer of the project, in a statement, said that as per the report received from the research institute, the distance between the two pillars to be erected under the project is 60 meters, that is 200 feet, which is sufficient.

For over two months, between October 2021 and January this year, fisherfolk from Worli Koliwada prevented the contractor from beginning the construction of an interchange between the coastal road and the Worli end of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link.

While the BMC is providing a span of 60 m between the pillars of the interchange, the fisherfolk have been asking for a navigational span of 200 m for safe passage of their boats. The fishermen maintain that the current design of interchange will cut them off from their traditional fishing grounds.

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BMC on Wednesday said that insurance cover will also be provided for the next 20 years in case of an accident due to the collision of the boat with the pillars.

Besides, BMC said that a state-of-the-art protective shield or ‘fender’ will be installed around the pillars. Officials said that fenders are special equipment designed to provide a cushion effect to boats when they experience collision against other vessels, piers etc.

An independent study conducted by Dr Surendra Thakurdesai, PhD in Coastal Geomorphology, suggested a navigation span of 160 meters between two pillars of Coastal road interchange planned at the Cleveland Bunder at Worli. Thakurdesai was appointed by the Cleveland Bunder fishermen after BMC repeatedly suggested the appointment of a qualified, independent and recognised organisation by the fisherfolk to review their demands.

The report was submitted to municipal commissioner IS Chahal and state environment minister Aaditya Thackeray on February 24 this year. BMC had then sent Thakurdesai’s report to the NIO for comment.

Accordingly, Senior Chief Scientist, Professor, CSIR at the NIO, Dr Jayakumar Silam, submitted a report to BMC on March 29, 2022.

“According to the opinion of the National Institute of Oceanography, the proposed 60-meter-wide navigation span under the bridge connecting the Bandra-Worli sea bridge in the Mumbai Coastal Road (South) project proposed by the Greater Mumbai Municipal Corporation is adequate,” read the statement released by BMC.

BMC also said that CCTV cameras connected directly to the control room will be installed to provide immediate assistance in case of an emergency. “Also, in case of an accident due to collision on the pillar of the Coastal Road Project, provision of accident insurance is proposed for the next 20 years,” said the BMC adding that assessing the impact of the project, the corporation is ready to provide interim compensation to the affected fishermen.

To date, 53 per cent of the Coastal Road project work has been completed and BMC said that the same is expected to be ready by December 2023.

Nitesh Patil of the Worli Koliwada Nakhwa Matsya Vyavsay Sahakari Society, who led the protest at the site, questioned BMC’s insurance claim and expressed inability to understand why the civic body was not expanding the span between two pillars. “What is the use of insurance money if a family loses its member in an untoward accident? Accidents are bound to happen since the span is not adequate. We are providing a better solution to avoid these accidents — increase the navigation span,” Patil said.

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