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Monday, July 04, 2022

Worli fisherfolk threaten to restart protests at Coastal Road construction site

Construction work on the project was stopped for over two months due to the protests earlier and losses had run into crores of rupees.

Written by Sanjana Bhalerao | Mumbai |
May 19, 2022 9:22:20 pm
Nitesh Patil of the Worli Koliwada Nakhwa Matsya Vyavsay Sahakari Society, who led the earlier protest, said he cannot understand why the civic body was not expanding the span between the two pillars. . (Representational)

A day after the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) stated that 60 metres gap in the navigation span between the two pillars of the Coastal Road interchange is sufficient, the fishing community in Worli said it is preparing for more protests at the construction site.

Construction work on the project was stopped for over two months due to the protests earlier and losses had run into crores of rupees. With machinery lying unused at the site, freight charges, manpower and other overhead expenses, BMC had then estimated that the halting of work had led to a loss of Rs 5 crore per month.

Nitesh Patil of the Worli Koliwada Nakhwa Matsya Vyavsay Sahakari Society, who led the earlier protest, said he cannot understand why the civic body was not expanding the span between the two pillars. “We will halt construction at the site again as BMC is adamant at not changing the navigation span. We have held multiple meetings in the past year but the only thing the civic body has done is delay addressing our concerns or divert attention to the compensation and insurance claims,” he said.

On Thursday, residents of Worli Koliwada drove away BMC staffers that visited the colony to distribute information pamphlets listing provisions under the project. Taking to Twitter, BMC stated, “We are hooked on making Mumbai a better place for everyone!” In a Twitter thread, the civic body listed down provisions and benefits — fenders around pillars to avoid damage to boats, high-resolution CCTV cameras, accidental insurance for any damage to boats, interim compensation for affected fisherfolk and refurbishment of Worli jetty, among others.

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An independent study conducted by Dr Surendra Thakurdesai, PhD in coastal geomorphology, suggested a navigation span of 160 metres between two pillars of the Coastal Road interchange planned at the Cleveland Bunder at Worli. Thakurdesai was appointed by the Cleveland Bunder fishermen after BMC suggested the appointment of a qualified, independent and organisation recognised by the fisherfolk to review their demands.

The report was submitted to Municipal Commissioner IS Chahal and Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray on February 24. The BMC had then sent Thakurdesai’s report to the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) for comment.
Over two months after the Worli fisherfolk submitted the independent study report regarding the navigation span, the civic body on Wednesday said according to a report/comment from NIO, 60 metres distance between the pillars is sufficient.

Between October 2021 and January, fisherfolk from Worli Koliwada prevented the contractor from beginning the construction on the interchange.

The BMC is constructing a 10.58-km-long coastal road from Princess Street at Marine Lines to Worli end of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link Road for Rs 12,721 crore. For the project, the civic body is reclaiming 111 hectares land from the sea of which 70 hectares will be developed as an open space.

The coastal road was to be completed in four years since it commenced in October 2018. In February and March 2019, a bunch of petitions were filed against the project. After the hearing on July 17, 2019, the Bombay High Court quashed coastal regulation zone clearance for the project and directed the civic body to get environment clearance under the EIA Notification 2006. Following this, the BMC approached the Supreme Court. In December 2019, the apex court stayed the High Court order and allowed the civic body to continue only road work. The target was then set for July 2023.
To date, 53 per cent of the Coastal Road project work has been completed and BMC said that the same is expected to be ready by December 2023.

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