A study by the Mumbai Transformation Support Unit (MTSU), a state think tank, has revealed that projects such as the coastal road, metro 3 and the mid-sea Shivaji memorial pose a threat to the livelihood of kolis, the traditional fisherfolk who are Mumbai’s original inhabitants. The MTSU study, conducted over the past year, was on socio-economic effects of infrastructure projects and land reclamation on fishing communities.
It said that while the Shivaji memorial will affect residents of the Cuffe Parade koliwada (fishing village) by reducing their fishing routes, metro 3 will do so by usurping their land. The proposed coastal road, too, will wipe out areas that Juhu’s kolis use to dry fish and park their boats. It could also cause changes to ocean currents, thereby reducing the city’s mangrove cover and causing many species of fish to disappear.
The study points to past infrastructure projects that have threatened the existence of the koli community by reducing the number of fish breeding sites through changes in the direction of tidal currents and other coastal processes.
The study was conducted across three koliwadas – at Cuffe Parade, Mahim and Juhu – that have been affected by land reclamation. According to data from the BMC, Mumbai has 24 koliwadas in all.