Civic leaders and citizens’ groups have criticised Mayor Shubha Raul’s proposal that the state should acquire plots owned by fisherfolk and develop them as gardens.
They said Kolis (fisherfolk) are the original inhabitants of Mumbai and “their land should not be touched”.
As a part of her new plan to deal with the dearth of open spaces, Raul wanted the state government to take over plots along the seafront unused by fisherfolk and develop them as gardens and green zones. Hindustan Times had reported this on Saturday.
Fishermen use the vacant land near the sea or creeks to keep their boats, nets and other equipment.
Rajhans Singh, Opposition leader in the civic standing committee, said: “Kolis are the ‘sons of the soil’ and their land should not be acquired. Instead, policies should be made to increase the floor space index of the land owned by them so that they can accommodate their families.”
According to Raul, most Kolis do not fish anymore and have levelled their marshy lands and given them away for meagre sums.
She proposed that fisherfolk should be compensated heavily for their land and be rehabilitated.
However, Raul’s party colleague and chairman of the civic standing committee, Ravindra Waikar, said: “The Kolis’ interest should be protected and they should not be asked to move or rehabilitated.”
But Waikar added that the state should remove encroachments on land owned by the Kolis.
Anandini Thakoor, chairman of H-West Citizens’ Trust, said, “If the idea is to deal with encroachments, the Kolis should not be dishoused. We have also developed the Carter Road promenade but the Kolis still use the area to dry their nets and keep the boats.”
Former secretary of Dharavi Koli Jamat, Ravindra Keny said: “We do not even trust the state’s interference. They will first reserve the area and then put it under some scheme. Our interests will be ignored.”