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Monday, March 01, 2021

Bombay HC disposes fisherfolk’s plea seeking ‘unhindered access’ to Lotus Jetty

Accepts BMC's assurance of no obstruction and navigation bridge.

Written by Omkar Gokhale | Mumbai |
Updated: February 3, 2021 10:02:01 pm
After hearing submissions, the court recorded the BMC’s undertaking that petitioners would have 'unhindered access' to the jetty and their livelihood through fishing activities would not be affected. (Express Photo)

The Bombay High Court on Wednesday disposed of a plea filed by ten fishermen that sought ‘unhindered accesses’ to the Lotus Jetty at Haji Ali in Mumbai, which the fisherfolk claimed would be restricted due to ongoing coastal road work. However, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) submitted it was building a navigation bridge for the benefit of the fisherfolk at the location and they can access the jetty, and therefore the petition was unfounded.

A division bench of Justice R D Dhanuka and Justice V G Bisht was hearing a plea by Allauddin Nayaz Khan and nine other fishermen, through advocate Meenaz Kakalia, which sought directions to the BMC to restrain it from obstructing fishing operations being carried out by the petitioners from Lotus Jetty, which include anchoring and operating fishing vessels, mending nets and storing fishing equipment among others.

“The BMC has unlawfully compelled the petitioners to vacate Lotus Jetty and remove their boats, nets and other equipment and stop their fishing activities from the jetty. The actions of BMC violate fundamental right to livelihood as per Article 21 of the Constitution,” the fishermen’s plea stated.

However, BMC, through senior counsel Aspi Chinoy and advocate Joel Carlos referred to an affidavit filed by Chief Engineer (Coastal Road) that stated, “I deny the reclamation work for the coastal road has caused damage to the anchors and boats stationed at the Lotus Jetty. The reclamation for construction of coastal road is some distance away from the jetty and does not in any way prevent petitioners from operating their boats from using the jetty.”

The civic body submitted that apprehensions by petitioners were “misconceived, baseless and devoid of merits” as BMC had always mentioned that a navigational bridge would be constructed for the free movements of fisherfolks boats to and from the Lotus Jetty.

After hearing submissions, the court recorded the BMC’s undertaking that petitioners would have ‘unhindered access’ to the jetty and their livelihood through fishing activities would not be affected. The bench also asked petitioners to approach the Fisherfolk Rehabilitation Assessment Committee set up by BMC to evaluate the effect, if any, of the project on the livelihood of fishermen and the committee can deal with issues related to damages caused to their vessels and other equipment and disposed of the plea.

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