As Mumbai celebrated the opening of the Bandra-Worli Sealink on Tuesday, a group of fishermen from Worli mourned. The fishermen, whose catch was affected during the sealink’s construction, claim they are yet to be fully compensated for their losses.
The group of 35 fishermen was prevented from fishing for nearly four weeks during November-December 2008 following their protest against the sealink. The fishermen claimed that the ferries carrying construction material were damaging their fishing nets. For 24 days from November 25, 2008, the government issued prohibitory orders to prevent them from venturing into the sea to avoid any trouble.
Later, the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) promised the fishermen Rs 1 lakh each as compensation. They were also promised additional compensation for the damaged nets, said Vijay Worlikar, vice-president, National Association of Fishermen, and a representative of the Sealink Project Affected Fishermen Coordinating Committee.
“None of the 35 fishermen got the MSRDC compensation for losses suffered due to prohibitory orders,” said Worlikar. Some have not received compensation for the torn nets either, he claimed.
“Some fishermen just received two cheques from Hindustan Construction Company (HCC), which built the sealink — one for Rs 16,000 and another for Rs 14,000 for claims up to Rs 60,000 for torn nets and other losses,” said Ramakant Patil, secretary of the Worli Koliwada Association.
MSRDC Chief Engineer Sharad Sabnis said: “These claims are paid by the contractor, HCC, as and when they are claimed.” An HCC representative said: “It’s a trivial issue, which I would not know about.”
The fishermen had planned a protest during the sealink’s inauguration, but cancelled it after a request by the police.