Worli fishers end hunger strike after CM intervenes
Hindustan Times was the first to report on the plight of the fisherfolk on August 24, a day after their sit-in began. Around 25 fishers from Lotus Jetty have been attempting to organise themselves under the banner of Vanchit Machhimar Haji Ali Sahkari Sangathana Maryadit (VMHASSM) since June 2019
Mumbai: Fisherfolk from Worli’s Lotus Jetty, who had been holding a relay hunger strike at Azad Maidan since August 24 to protest a three-year-long delay in registration of their co-operative society, this week called off their hunger strike after chief minister Eknath Shinde reportedly intervened in the matter, directing the fisheries department to register their co-op on priority.
Hindustan Times was the first to report on the plight of the fisherfolk on August 24, a day after their sit-in began. Around 25 fishers from Lotus Jetty have been attempting to organise themselves under the banner of Vanchit Machhimar Haji Ali Sahkari Sangathana Maryadit (VMHASSM) since June 2019. They alleged that the fisheries department had refused to formally recognise them, despite all requisite paperwork being completed.
At 8pm on August 24, two of the striking members -- Alahuddin Niyaz Khan and Rajesh Mohan Maldar -- along with their advocate Pravin Palhade, were summoned to Vidhan Bhavan where Shinde met with them for all of two minutes, assuring them of a swift resolution to their problem.
“Shinde called fisheries commissioner Atul Patne in front of us, and personally requested him to complete the registration of my clients’ society, which had been pending for more than three years. The process was finally completed on September 12, and from September 13 my clients called off their hunger strike after receiving the registration certificate,” Palhade said. A copy of the registration certificate has been seen by HT.
Atul Patne, commissioner of fisheries, Maharashtra, confirmed this development. “Yes, the fishers met the chief minister who conveyed their plight to us. There were some irregularities in the paperwork, such as obtaining NOCs from other fishing societies in the vicinity, and insuring all their fishing boats. We have now completed this paperwork in record time and formally registered the co-op earlier this week,” Patne said to HT on Friday.
Registration of the co-op will allow the fisherfolk to avail of important benefits under the Maharashtra Co-Operative Societies Act. “We are a group of poor fishermen whose livelihoods have been badly hit by the coastal road project. By registering ourselves as a society, we will be able to request the fisheries department to subsidise certain facilities at Lotus Jetty, like running water, lights and a shed to mend our boats. This will improve our daily lives. We will also be protected in the case of natural disasters. Three boats from Lotus Jetty were destroyed during Cyclone Tauktae but we didn’t receive any compensation because there is no society to represent us,” said Sanjay Baikar, founder and secretary, VMHASSM.