On Saturday morning, citizens came together to clean up the Worli Fort, in Worli Koliwada — one of the few areas where the city’s traditional culture still thrives — as part of HT’s Clean My Mumbai campaign.
A discussion after the clean-up highlighted the importance of involving the local community in maintaining the area.
The Koliwada is home to not just the Worli Fort, which is a heritage structure, but also to the traditional fishing community.
“Sustained cleanliness can be achieved only if locals are included in the process. Unfortunately, for several years, localities in the Koliwada have been occupied in a legal wrangle for ownership, and have not realised the importance of this,” said Vedant Katkar, convenor and secretary of Nav Patil Jamat and Gavkari Trust, an association of fishermen from the Koliwada.
“The fishermen community has struggled for the ownership of this land since the time of the British. In 1969, nine Patils, or clan chiefs, from different communities formed a public trust to maintain the area. Such cleanliness campaigns will keep up that spirit and transform this area,” Katkar said.
Katkar, along with Gautam Kirtane, research fellow and faculty at Observer Research Foundation, Hemangi Worlikar, municipal councillor and Sangeetha Solanki, architect and urban landscape expert, took part in the discussion on cleanliness for cultural conservation. It was moderated by Sarita Vijayan, coordinator, For Young India.
According to Kirtane, if public spaces are made accessible, the need to keep it clean will become more important.
“When more people visit the fort, there will be more awareness about the need to keep it clean. The importance of a shared public place should be recognised through such clean-ups,” he said.
To make the fort more accessible, Kirtane suggested a road for pedestrians be built across the coast of Mahim Bay. “This will help people reach the fort, and will not affect the fishing community either.”
“Even if there is a plan to develop the area with high-rises, it should suit the cultural aspirations of the fishermen community,” said Solanki. “Cultural festivals depicting the life of the fishing community can attract the attention of the authorities and public.”
Solanki brought up the lack of sanitation facilities in the area, an issue that Worlikar also spoke about.
“There are no separate sewage lines and few public toilets, leading to open defecation on the shore. This is making the place dirtier. We have made several proposals to the municipal body and the government. We hope they take positive steps.”