UNHAPPY WITH the ongoing reclamation of land in the sea near Priyadarshani Park, fishermen in Worli have written a letter to the Fisheries Department demanding cancellation of the NOC issued for the coastal road project. The fishing community wants the work stopped until a committee set up by the BMC finds a solution to their concerns.
However, a senior official from the BMC said, “We are not aware of any such letter sent to Fisheries Department.”
Damodar Tandel, president of the Akhil Maharashtra Macchhimar Kriti Samiti, told The Indian Express that the Municipal Commissioner has promised to set up a committee, comprising four members of the fishing community and municipal officials, to look into their issues. “Also, we want experts from the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) to be part of the committee. Though the BMC has agreed to widen the gap between pillars, the ongoing reclamation near Priyadarshani Park is damaging as it is a very important breeding spot for fish. Also, only an announcement has been made about the committee, no meeting has been called yet.”
He added that last week, an official from the Fisheries Department visited the site. The letter from the fishing community says the department’s NOC was obtained with the help of some “bogus” members of the fishing community. “We are not against the coastal road project, but our contention is it should not uproot the community’s livelihood,” the letter said.
On Monday, members of the fishing community met in Worli to discuss further action. Fishermen have currently stalled a geo-technical survey in Worli that is required for exact pillar positions to be marked. But reclamation work at Priyadarshani Park is underway, using muck removed from tunnelling for the Metro 3 project, according to Tandel.
Fishermen are demanding that the gap between two pillars should be 300 metres at least, instead of the civic body’s proposed 60-metre-space between pillars.
The BMC official said, “The geotechnical survey for taking exact pillar position at Worli has not resumed. We are preparing a report with all technical details and considering all possible options to address the demand of the fishermen.”
Earlier, fishermen had alleged that officials refused to accept their demands due to which the livelihood of many fishermen was at stake. They say that the coastal road project will affect areas including Priyadarshani Park, Lotus jetty, Worli Koliwada, Chimbai , Khar Danda and Juhu Moregaon.
Harishchandra Nakhwa of the Worli Koli community said, “Last week, Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta met us and promised to form a committee of fishermen and experts. But there is no progress on that and nothing has been given on paper to resolve our issues.” Chief Engineer of the Coastal Road Department Mohan Machiwal was not available for comment.