Fishermen from Haji Ali have sought a stop to reclamation in the area stating that work on the coastal road project has led to habitat destruction, which has affected fishing as well as reef building coral in the vicinity.
Vanchit Machhimar Haji Ali Sahkari Sangathana Maryadit, a group of about 100 fishermen from Lotus Jetty (near Haji Ali), has filed a complaint with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray alleging that in last few months the reclamation has buried their boat parking areas causing financial losses. They have claimed that reclamation will destroy their operational areas in shallow waters and will eventually affect ancillary and artisanal fishermen.
“In its plan the BMC has shown that at Haji Ali bay area there will be interchanges and minimum reclamation would take place. But now we have found out that the reclamation will take place up to Lotus Jetty. In that process, in the last few months they already buried our boat anchoring areas. When we approached authorities to discuss our issues, there was no reply,” said Sanjay Baikar, secretary of Vanchit Machhimar Haji Ali Sahkari Sangathana Maryadit.
He added, “Reclamation will destroy breeding areas and over 100 fishermen could lose their livelihoods.”
Fishermen are also planning to approach the Supreme Court.
The BMC has proposed reclaiming about 90 hectares into sea for the 9.98-km coastal road, which will come up from Princess Street Flyover to Worli end of Bandra-Worli Sea Link on elevated roads, undersea tunnels. Civic body is spending Rs 12,700 crore on the project.
On Wednesday evening, environmentalists said that the civic body has started reclamation right next to the reef building coral area violating the environment norms.
Earlier, the Mangrove Foundation through a letter had informed BMC about presence of several colonies of reef-building Fals Pillow corals in a large tide pool. Mangrove Cell had also warned the civic body of action under Wildlife Protection Act (WPA). Corals are protected under Schedule-1 of WPA.
“There are multiple colonies of False Pillow corals in the pool on the left. The forest department (mangrove cell) had assured that the area will not be reclaimed and had also informed the BMC and other stakeholders. But photos and videos taken by residents clearly show trucks lined up and a slope being built right next to the pool,” said Shaunak Modi, co-founder of Coastal Conservation Foundation.
Chief Engineer, Coastal Road department, Niranjan Khanolkar said that the matter is sub judice and declined to comment.
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