The fishermen community, one of the oldest communities in the city, has demanded protection for their livelihood, stating that the proposed coastal road would endanger their traditional occupation. The Maharashtra Machimaar Union has organised a meeting of the entire fishing community on July 11 to set their future road map.
According to the Union, the large scale reclamation undertaken for the project would restrict their activities as it will threaten the breeding grounds for fish. Rajesh Mangela, resource person from the Union said, “We have seen earlier examples of reclamation in Mumbai where our livelihoods were severely affected. The Maharashtra government never compensated us for the losses though we are entitled to it. We are not against development but we need a strong alternative plan assuring us that the community will not suffer because of the project.”
Around 11.61 km (roughly 33 per cent) of the entire 35-km long freeway, connecting South Mumbai to the western side, will be on reclaimed land, the draft Detailed project report (DPR) suggests. The DPR was uploaded by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) last week inviting suggestions and objection from citizens in the next one month, till July 27.
According to the DPR, the proposed coastal road indicates the presence of several fishing villages along its alignment including the Manora fishing village, Khar Danda, Juhu Mora gaon, Versove gaon and the Chimbai village. In all, there are 38 koliwadas in the city.
Kiran Koli, chairperson of the Union said, “The Worli Sea-link reclamation led to private enterprises occupying the area. The Versova portion of the coastal road witnesses a huge fishing activity, there are close to 750 fishing boats in the vicinity and more than 15,000 kolis, who will assure us of sustained livelihood?”
A senior civic official from BMC said, “We have made the document public to receive suggestions from people. If the community needs any clarification, then they can issue an objection letter to the department which will be reviewed.”
The union is also going to write a letter to the BMC to make the DPR document available in Marathi. The current document runs into more than 6,000 pages.