The fight between vegetarians and non-vegetarians in south Mumbai has now reached the Bombay high court (HC). The Akhil Maharashtra Machchhimar Kruti Samiti has approached the court, challenging closure of the age-old fishing port at Girgaum chowpatty, alleging the decision was taken at the behest of vegetarian communities with an ulterior motive of ousting fishermen from Girgaum.
A division bench of justice SC Dharmadhikari and justice BP Colabawalla on Thursday directed the state to file its reply, and has posted the matter for hearing on November 20.
The petitioner body has challenged the validity of the decision taken by the state to shut the fishing port at chowpatty on August 16. It has also challenged the order passed by the additional commissioner of the fisheries department on August 25, directing the fishermen operating out of Girgaum chowpatty not to anchor their licensed boats there and to shift to the Mahim port.
According to the petition filed through advocate Niranjan Mogre, at least 41 fishing vessels operate from Girgaum chowpatty and the decision will directly affect the only source of livelihood of 28 families. The petition states the rights of the fishermen are recognised under the provisions of the Indian Fisheries Act, 1897, under which the fishing port was notified.
The body has further alleged that a sitting BJP MLA, who belongs to the community, has used his clout to exert pressure on the government authorities to close down the fishing port.
Senior advocate SM Gorwadkar, who represented the petitioner body, said, “Under the garb of beautification of the chowpatty, they [vegetarians] have obtained the closure order.”
Assistant government pleader Hitendra Venegaonkar responded saying there were hardly five licensed fishermen operating out of the Girgaum chowpatty fishing port. He said the port facility comprised only anchoring of fishing vessels, unloading and selling fish, and there was no storage or any other facility at the chowpatty.