Fish markets and fishing activities in many fishing villages in the city remained closed on Tuesday as the bandh called by the Vadhavan Bandar Virodhi Sangharsh Samiti (VBVSS) saw participation from fisherfolk in Mumbai, Thane and Palghar. Many staged demonstrations bearing placards with the slogan “Ekach Jidduh, Vadhavan Bandar rudduh (Just one demand, cancel Vadhavan port)”.
In Mumbai the Sassoon Dock fish market remained deserted all day and fisherwomen’s tables in Badhwar Park were empty as they stood in solidarity with the fisherfolk of Vadhavan in Palghar where the new port is set to be constructed. “We can bear a day’s loss of business but if the environment is destroyed because of land reclamation for the port in Vadhavan, that loss will be irreparable. It was on short notice but we managed to inform 24 allied organisations of ice suppliers, cart suppliers, weighing machine suppliers in time to observe the bandh,” said Bhuvaneshwar Dhanu, special advisor to the Machichimar Sarvoday Sahakari Samiti at Badhwar Park. Members of their cooperative society, including fisherwomen who sell at Sassoon Docks, Colaba, Fort, Nul Bazaar, Dhobi Talao, Grant Road stayed away from business on Tuesday.
In Mahim, fisherfolk protested near the fishermen’s colony bearing protest placards. “We also formed a human chain in the water,” said Bhushan Nijai, a fisherman from Mahim. “The Vadhavan area in Palghar is suited for fish seeding. If that is destroyed there won’t be enough fish in the sea and it will impact fishermen not just in Palghar but also in Mumbai.”
The fishing community from Madh and Versova also observed the bandh. Vikaas Koli from the National Association of Fisherman and a resident of Madh said that fisherman will have to unite to oppose the upcoming port. “In the days ahead, we will intensify our protest,” he said.
At the heart of the protest in Palghar, however, human chains surfaced in many villages like Varor, Vadhavan, Chinchani, Tarapur, Bahad, Gungwada and Dhakti Dahanu. Working president of VBVSS Aniket Patil said, “These villages observed a very strict bandh. The autorickshaw and taxi unions in Palghar also supported us. Most people observed the bandh for the entire day but many got back to their activities after 5 pm.”
Locals in Dahanu had staged a protest in Vadhavan and Varor villages against a biodiversity survey carried out by a team of scientists and Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust officials on December 2 and 3. Consultants appointed by the JNPT carried out a biodiversity survey for the proposed port — set to be India’s 13th major port to be built at an estimated cost of Rs 65,544.54 crore — on the two days. The JNPT and the Maharashtra Maritime Board are development partners for the port project with 74 per cent and 26 per cent equity share respectively.
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