The fishing community in Worli Koliwada, which is opposing the coastal road project, has alleged the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) obtained a No Objection Certificate (NOC) for the project from a group that doesn’t represent the fishing community.
Worli Koliwada Nakhawa Matsya Vyavsay Sahkari Society president Harishchandra Nakhawa said, “In Worli Koliwada, there are only two fishing organisations that are recognised by the fisheries department — one is ours and the other is the Worli Machhimar Sarvoday Sahkari Society. The BMC was supposed to take suggestions and objections from our community but they approached the Worli Koliwada Owners Community Welfare Co-Operative Society of Worli village, which has nothing to do with fishing. But the coastal road department held a meeting with them.”
In December 2016, said Nakhawa, this particular society had written a letter to the coastal road department permitting it to go ahead with the project. “The BMC used that to go ahead with its plans. But on February 27, 2017, the fisheries department issued NOC for the project with the condition that suggestions and objections of the Nakhawa Society and Sarvoday Society be considered.”
The Nakhawa and Sarvoday societies have opposed the project and also stalled the geo-technical survey near Worli Koliwada. They are demanding that the gap between two pillars should be 200 metres instead of the proposed 200 feet. They have also opposed the reclamation work near Priyadarshani Park and sought a permanent mechanism for clearing construction site mud.
Worli Koliwada Owners Community Welfare Co-Operative Society secretary Prahlad Worlikar denied they had issued any such letter to the coastal road department. “We have not issued any NOC or letter for the project. We filed an RTI application with the department asking them what NOC was issued by us. Their reply says we did not give any NOC,” said Worlikar.
Coastal Road Department chief engineer Mohan Machiwal said the BMC had approached all community groups of Worli fisherfolk during planning. “The Nakhawa and Sarvoday societies were also part of our meeting and they were given all the maps and plans. In their follow-up letters, there was no mention of the distance between pillars or about the reclamation affecting fish breeding spots. The community had written that the coastal road should be scrapped as it was going to affect their livelihoods. We had spoken to all the affected communities in Worli Koliwada and, following their suggestions, the distance between the pillars has been proposed as 200 feet.”
He said the fishermen’s claims that their organisations were not taken into confidence in the planning stage were baseless.