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Mumbai: BMC trying to deflect from main demand with compensation offer, say fisherfolk; to continue protest

Fisherfolk from Worli Koliwada have held multiple protests since October 14 against the construction of an interchange between the coastal road and the Bandra-Worli Sea Link (BWSL).

Mumbai, Bandra-Worli Sea Link, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, BMC, Coastal Road work, Worli KoliwadaThe project, consisting of a tunnel, a road, and an interchange, aims to connect south Mumbai to the Worli end of the Worli-Bandra Sea Link through a high-speed corridor. (Express Photo: Ganesh Shirsekar)

In response to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) announcement that fisherfolk of Worli Koliwada will be compensated for the loss of fishing activity due to ongoing Coastal Road work, a fishing union alleged that the civic body was trying to deflect from their main demand of increasing the navigation span with the compensation offer.

“Our primary demand for all these years has been a navigation span of 200 meters between the two columns of the Coastal Road connector; compensation, although important, is a secondary issue,” the Worli Machimar Sarvodya Sahakari Society Limited said on Wednesday.

In response to the ongoing protests, the BMC on Tuesday reiterated that the interchange design and location were vetted by competent authorities and that the civic body was providing a higher navigational span than mandated by the guidelines issued by the Inland Waterways Authority of India.

Fisherfolk from Worli Koliwada have held multiple protests since October 14 against the construction of an interchange between the coastal road and the Bandra-Worli Sea Link (BWSL). Over 100 fishing boats from Worli Koliwada have been staging a sit-in in the alignment of the interchange since October 30, demanding an assurance that the navigation span of 200 meters be provided. The civic body is providing a span of 60 metres between the pillars of the interchange, which, the fisherfolk claim, will cut off their access to customary fishing grounds.

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The fisherfolk said the protest will continue until their demands are met. “If the BMC would have consulted us during the planning of the project, we would not be forced to protest and block the work. The current situation is the fault of the BMC that did not consult us during the early stages of the project and have consistently refused to meet us despite our requests for the last three years. It is still not too late to make the necessary design change. We will continue our agitation till our demand for the navigation route is met,” read their statement.

A civic official said, “The BMC, in a meeting with the fishermen’s representatives on November 1, took into account their concerns. They have been assured that any loss during construction will be compensated.” A decision on the amount of compensation is yet to be given, said civic officials.

Tata Institute of Social Sciences has been appointed by the BMC to draft a compensation policy. A working group of the civic has also been formed which has already held several meetings with the fisherfolk.

First published on: 11-11-2021 at 00:58 IST
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