Reclamation for the Coastal Road project in Worli will adversely affect the lifecycle of oyster beds and the livelihood of fisherwomen, the ICAR-Mumbai Research Centre has observed in a report submitted to the Bombay High Court on Tuesday.
The court directed the state government and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to file a reply by April 22.
Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice N M Jamdar were hearing a petition filed by Worli Koliwada Nakhwa Matsya Vyavsay Sahakari Society Ltd, stating that reclaiming the shoreline and constructing stilted roads for the project will affect the right of fishing communities to pursue their livelihood.
The senior counsel for the petitioners, Gayatri Singh, told the court that the report by Dr Anulekahmi Chellappan of the ICAR-Mumbai Research Centre, which comes under the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, said the proposed area is an oyster bed. “Oyster is a sedentary organism, breeds in intertidal rocky area and its larvae need suitable substrate/rocks for attachment. Present reclamation will adversely affect their lifecycle and destroy the oyster beds in the area,” the report stated.
The report adds that due to the project, the “livelihood of local handpickers, mainly the fisherwomen, may get affected. At present, the extent of the oyster bed is not known”. It says the presence of juvenile fishes of some commercially important species indicates that nearshore water can act as a nursery ground for juveniles, like other coastal waters.
The report notes the demography and fishery profile of Worli fishing village, and says fishers from Worli Koliwada use gillnet and bagnets. The marine species in the area are Asian sea bass, marine shrimp, lobsters, Bombay duck, gold-spotted anchovy, non-penaeid and pomfret, among others.
There are as many as 800 fisher families and 741 traditional fisher families. The total fisher population in Worli Koliwada is 3,055.
In the previous hearing, Singh, the senior counsel, told the court that there were at least 995 fisherfolk in Worli Koliwada with 428 fishing trawlers. The Coastal Road project will block their direct access to the sea, resulting in a loss of coastal resources, habitat and fish-breeding area, the petitioner said.