Fishermen from the Priyadarshini Park on Napean Sea Road claim that land reclamation for the Coastal Road being built by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has taken a toll on their livelihood. They have alleged that the route, which they used to take their boats into the sea, has been blocked on account of the reclamation work.
Fishermen alleged that in the last two months the reclamation process had initially eaten into the area where they used to park their boats and then the way was blocked by debris. The work on the Coastal Road was started in November 2018.
Fisherman Ashish Rana, who stays in Simla Nagar near Priyadarshini Park on Napean Sea Road, said in the last two months he could get inside the area only three to four times, as against twice a day earlier. “I lost my only livelihood since I cannot take out my boats. I used to earn Rs 1,200 to Rs 1,500 daily by selling fish, lobster, crab, prawns, among others in the Colaba fish market. We have two boats, which are operated by my brother and me. But since the last two months everything has come to a standstill,”Rana told The Indian Express.
He added, “My father is used to fishing in this part of the city for more than 50 years. We have a licence granted by the fisheries department in 1980. In November, initially officers and contractors came and said they will only do a survey, but later they demolished the area, where I used to park my boats, and constructed a huge concrete platform. I told the BMC and the contractor about my loss. They promised to provide or create some alternative place for our boats to park and go inside the sea but nothing has been done so far.”
After taking help from Worli fishermen, Rana has written a letter to the Coastal Road department on February 26 about his loss of livelihood. Showing some old photographs of the locality where he used to park his boats, 29-year-old Rana said this part of the sea is a very good breeding site for marine animals. We get huge lobsters (1-2 kg), fish and crabs without having to go too deep inside. Even the fishermen from Worli also come here for fishing. Now, the reclamation process has destroyed the breeding sites completely.”
There are eight members in his family along with his younger brother and they all are dependent on fishing. Along with Rana, another fishermen Ganesh Surve, who owns one boat and has been fishing in the locality for over 30 years, has a similar story to tell. “I don’t have any objection or opposition to the project, but they should take care of our livelihood along with development. Recently, I have purchased new fishing nets worth Rs 45,000, but I have no clue what to do with that since I am unable to go fishing.”
Recently, fishermen from Worli also approached the Bombay High Court seeking a stay on the Coastal Road project.