The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) is planning to turn a 45-sq km area around the coastal belt of Gorai, Manori and Uttan into a tourism and recreation zone and has called for objections and suggestions to its plan within the next 30 days. The MMRDA's plan for the area includes a botanical garden and a mangrove park in addition to water-sports facilities.
This is not the first time that the agency has proposed to turn the area into a recreational zone. The state had earmarked the areas as an entertainment special economic zone (SEZ), but the project was abandoned following strong opposition from local residents and fisherfolk. The MMRDA, too, had decided to set up a Rs100-crore
mangrove park in the area in 2009. However, the project received lukewarm response from the Environment Department and was relegated to the backburner.
The agency has said that the proposed mangrove park will provide vital shelter belts to protect inland homesteads, livestock and other properties located in near-shore environments. It will also ensure improved fish catch for coastal communities.
The local local fishing community, however, is not too happy with the prospect of such projects coming up in their backyard. The MMRDA, though, maintains that it will ensure that traditional livelihood and way of life of the locals is not affected by the project.
“The development plan has been prepared keeping environmental and heritage sensitivities in mind. Fishing and fishing related trade is the livelihood of the locals and that has been treated as top priority while preparing the plan”, MMRDA joint project director Dilip Kawathkar said.