October 11, 2021 1:45:45 am
THE WESTERN naval command has been repeatedly requesting the state government to have a no-fishing zone or a waterfront security zone 100 metres from the wall of their helibase INS Shikra at Colaba as birds that come to feed on fish pose risk to the helicopters landing there.
INS Shikra houses helicopters like Sea King, Kamov, Chetak and the ALH and caters to the needs of various ships and is also used for search and rescue operations.
A senior officer of the Indian Navy said, “Shikra is a premier air station of the western naval command. The air station operates several helicopters that embark ships of the Indian Navy and also undertakes critical operations ashore. During the recent cyclone Tauktae, several search and rescue operations commenced from here. Shikra is located between Sassoon dock and Sundernagari fishing colonies and fishing boats regularly ply in front of Shikra and some boats do fishing in front of the wall of INS Shikra.”
The staff of INS Shikra has raised highlighted their concerns in the past as it becomes critical when VVIPs like President, Vice-President and Prime Minister come and Shikra is the landing spot. The waterfront is the designated landing area and the presence of these boats is an obstruction for the safe operation of helicopters.
The Navy has proposed that a 100-metre area from the wall of INS Shikra be cordoned with ropes and buoys as this would prevent the entry of fishing boats close to the wall. The Navy has got NOC from Mumbai Port Trust and the Maharashtra Maritime Board but the same is still pending from the fisheries department.
In a meeting held on November 20, 2020, the chief secretary had directed the state fisheries department to give NOC and it is yet to come. The issue was raised again with Chief Secretary S J Kunte in a meeting held in the third week of September.
Rajiv Nivatkar, Collector of Mumbai City, said that the fisheries department had to decide on the no-fishing zone.
Fisheries Commissioner Atul Patne said, “There are many boats which go around the Shikra base. But there are eight fishermen, who fish right next to the Shikra wall. They claim that their families do fishing since British times. We are ready to relocate them, but they want jobs. This is a question of national security and the Navy is right.”
Devendra Tandel of Akhil Maharashtra Machimar Kruti Samit, “All these years there was no hindrance. How come they have suddenly demanded a no-fishing zone around Shikra?”
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