Rehabilitate fishermen before undertaking coastal road project: HC to BMC
The Bombay high court on Wednesday said the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) should have first come up with some plan to rehabilitate affected fishermen before undertaking a major project like the coastal road.
“You (BMC) have to have some rehabilitation plan for them (fishermen),” a division bench of chief justice Naresh Patil and justice Nitin Jamdar told senior advocate Anil Sakhare, who represented the civic body. “When you undertake such a big project, you have to first come up with plans for rehabilitation of project-affected people,” the bench added.
The judges felt the civic body, which is implementing the coastal road project, “ought to have put in place some substitute livelihood plan for the affected fishermen.” The coastal road is part of the proposed Eastern Freeway that connects Marine Lines with suburban Kandivli and expects to cut short travel time by 70%. The coastal road will start at Princess Street flyover and end at the Worli end of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link.
The court was hearing a PIL filed by Worli Koliwada Nakhwa Matsya Vyavsay Sahakari Society Limited, expressing apprehension that the project involving reclamation of land along the shoreline and construction of stilted roads will have a huge impact on their customary right of fishing and is likely to adversely affect their livelihood. The petitioner body contended that there are about 995 fishermen in Worli Koliwada having 428 mechanised and non-mechanised fishing trawlers and the project will block their direct access to the sea and will thus result in loss of coastal resources, habitat and fish-breeding areas.
“No fishing villages are affected by the proposed coastal road,” stated an affidavit filed by the BMC in response to the PIL.
The court has now posted the PIL for further hearing on Tuesday after Sakhare assured the court that the civic body will try to come up with a solution to the problems of the community.