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Wednesday, Oct 16, 2019

Chimbai locals oppose construction at beach

mumbai Updated: Oct 13, 2019 00:47 IST
Hindustantimes
         

Bandra’s Chimbai beach is under threat from construction projects, locals and environmentalists have alleged. Locals have opposed the state fisheries department’s plans to extend an existing jetty and build two boat yards at the beach.

Last year, in July, the department proposed a series of constructions at the beach under the project titled, ‘Post-harvesting infrastructure facilities for fishing activities’. The department, earlier this month, began the construction for the boat yards, which includes two connecting ramps, two net-mending sheds and extending the jetty.

Around 60 fishing families in Chimbai are opposing the project on the ground that the reclamation will cause flooding in their area. “The reclamation will cause flooding in our homes, as the construction is close to the high-tide line. But our concerns have fallen on deaf ears. No public consultation was held on the project and some of our members were even detained by the police thrice over the past week for speaking against it,” said a resident.

The fisheries department stated that the project would benefit the communities. “The idea is to provide the best facilities for the fishing community,” said Rajendra Jadhav, joint commissioner, state fisheries.

Last week, the fishing communities had reached out to SagarShakti, the marine conservation division of environment group Vanashakti over the issue. Following this, the group, under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, obtained documents about the project. The documents show the site falls in Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) 1B and the fisheries received permission for the project from the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) in February. As per 2019 norms, land reclamation is permitted in CRZ1B.

Based on site visits, environmentalists said the project will harm the biodiversity of the beach. SagarShakti’s conservation officer Sarita Fernandes submitted an 11-page report as a part of its complaint to the state environment department on Thursday. “Apart from coastal inundation, marine life such as starfish, sea slugs and crustaceans, are already being destroyed,” said Stalin D, director, Vanashakti.

The report also said that the construction at Chimbai is a precursor for road development by the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) for the Versova-Bandra Sea Link (VBSL). “The CRZ norms prohibit the breaking up of natural rock formation and reclamation of beaches. Permissions issued for this project have ignored the impact it would have on coastal ecology or local livelihood,” said Stalin.

Vijay Waghmare, joint managing director, MSRDC, has refuted the corporation’s involvement. “MSRDC hasn’t planned or started any construction at the site at Chimbai,” said Waghmare.

Meanwhile, Chimbai residents met Bandra legislator Ashish Shelar, earlier this week over the issue. “The location of the infrastructure work will be shifted from the middle of the beach to another end to ensure the livelihood of the fishing communities is not affected,” said Shelar.

First Published: Oct 13, 2019 00:47 IST

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