NOW a major corporate hub, Worli in Central Mumbai is still home to places that the realty industry has not touched, Worli Koliwada chief among them. A fishing hamlet, Worli Koliwada covers approximately 125 acres of land, including the core Koliwada area, Worli Fort and other surrounding developments totalling 60 acres accounting for one half and the Coast Guard premises occupying much of the rest.
While property prices in the vicinity have shot up over the years, local resident Paresh Worlikar says, “Our ancestors have lived here since the British era. We don’t have any other native town — this is the place we belong to and will never give it to anybody for any amount of money. The land and boat are all we have, and all we need.” With a direct view of the sea link, and new construction mostly out of bounds, the area has attracted filmmakers and organisers of photo shoots in recent years. From ‘Munnabhai MBBS’, ‘Ferrari ki Sawaari’, Marathi blockbuster ‘Timepass 2’ and recent Coldplay number Hymn For The Weekend, there’s a new shoot here every week.
Locals are not disturbed by the intrusions, believing they are good for tourism in the area.
But there are other complaints, a prominent one being on garbage collection. Deepak Patil says, “There are so many mosquitoes in the area because of the open drain, the water stagnates and mosquitoes are all over it. There used to be a time where we slept near the sea.
Now due to mosquitoes, you can’t stand here after 5 pm for even a few minutes.” Motiram Nakva, a 77-year-old fisherman, says it’s sad the civic body has neglected the area. “Medical emergencies are always a problem. Ambulances can’t come into these narrow lanes, we have to pick up our children when they’re sick and rush them to the nearby Poddar Hospital in taxis,” he says. With the monsoon approaching, the fishermen will bring their boats into harbour by June 10, after which there is a government-imposed ban on fishing for the three months when the seas are rough. Paresh Worlikar says, “It is not easy to be home for a three months when everything around us is filthy.” Deepak Sansare, a former kabaddi player and now a practicing fisherman, says, “We are really happy to be a part of this area, we are safe here and we protect our heritage.”