FISHERMEN IN Worli Koliwada have called other residents of the locality to join them in boycotting the election to the Mumbai South Lok Sabha constituency, as a mark of protest against various parties ignoring their complaints of loss of livelihood owing to the under-construction coastal road project.
The banners they erected in this regard on Friday were, however, removed allegedly by the police, claiming it could be violation of the model code of conduct, residents claimed. The banners urged Kolis in the Worli area to boycott the elections on April 29 because their problems arising out of the reclamation work for the project remain unresolved despite promises made by the various parties.
“Due to the proposed Mumbai Coastal Road Project, the western coast near Worli will be reclaimed by 200 m to 500 m by dumping of soil. This will not only be a road but also a parking area. A garden will be created through reclamation. The reclamation will wipe out fishermen’s livelihood. Also, during high tide, Worli village will be flooded and submerged. If urban development kills people and the environment, then it should be opposed. Our demands have not been met, so there is no question of going for voting,” the banners announced.
Fishermen have been contending that fishing area and fish breeding sites will be completely destroyed by the reclamation. “We have been pursuing the matter with parties but even after promises, nothing has happened. A huge portion of fishing areas off Worli Koliwada, Worli Dairy and Priyadarshini Park, have already been reclaimed,” said Marshal Koli, a fisherman from Worli Koliwada. “This project will cause irreversible damage to the ecology along the western coast. Therefore, we have decided not to vote,” he added.
Five petitions have now been filed before the Bombay High Court against the project. Last week, while hearing one of the petitioners, city-based architect Shweta Wagh, the HC stayed further work on the project.
Fishermen alleged that on Friday evening, policemen arrived at Worli Koliwada and removed the banners. “We were summoned and some policemen took down our names. We were told that putting up such banners is a violation of the model code of conduct. But these banners were not political. These were put up by Kolis, and we have the right to express our views. There is a NOTA option. So, how is this a violation of the code of conduct?” asked Harishchandra Nakhwa, a petitioner from Worli Koliwada.
Senior Inspector Diwakar Shelke from Dadar police, however, said the banners were removed by BMC. “We are checking whether this falls under the model code of conduct. The flying squad of the Election Commission is conducting an inquiry and we are awaiting their complaint,” he added.