FOLLOWING demands from the fishermen community, the state fisheries department has decided to conduct a study on the impact of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Memorial on fish production, livelihood of fishermen and the biodiversity at the proposed site in the Arabian Sea. However, the study is delayed due to want of funds.
Officials from fisheries department said it has asked the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) to carry out the study. “There were protests by the fishermen community, saying the Shivaji statue will affect their livelihood. So, to assess the impact, we have asked the CMFRI to submit a proposal to carry out the study,” said an official.
The official added that the CMFRI has submitted a proposal, stating it would require seven months (till July 2019) to conduct the study and quoted Rs 49.42 lakh as the estimated cost for it. “The study will include the impact of the statue on biodiversity, fishing area and fishing villages. Besides, it will also analyse impact on fishing vessels operating in inshore and near-shore fishing area and on the fishermen families that are likely to be affected,” said the official.
However, the study has not yet been commenced due to issues related to funding. “We have sent the proposal to the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Memorial Committee seeking funds for the study. We are yet to get a response from them but we are following up with them,” said Arun Vidhale, fisheries commissioner.
“The study will reveal whether there will be any impact on the fish production and fishermen’s livelihood. Based on the findings, we will decide about the compensation to be given to the fishermen,” Vidhale added.
On January 15, the Public Works Department had asked the project’s contractor to halt the work, citing directions from the Supreme Court.
While PWD officials said they were unaware of the proposal, Vinayak Mete, chairman of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Memorial Project Implementa-tion, Monitoring and Co-ordination Committee, did not respond to calls and messages.
Damodar Tandel, president of Akhil Maharashtra Machhimar Kruti Samiti, has alleged that the government does not want the report to come out before the Assembly polls. “… The government is deliberately delaying the funding to the study as it will show the adverse impact of the project on the biodiversity and fishermen’s livelihood,” said Tandel.