Give fisherfolk a hearing on coastal road project: HC

Cops, BMC told not to obstruct fishing

Published - February 28, 2019 01:14 am IST - Mumbai

The Bombay High Court on Wednesday directed the Commissioner of Fisheries to hear grievances of fishing communities with respect to the proposed 35.6-km coastal road project.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice Naresh Patil and Justice N.M. Jamdar was hearing a petition filed by the Worli Koliwada Nakhwa and Worli Machimmar Sarvodaya. The petition said the project will lead to the loss of direct access to the sea and coastal commons due to reclamation, and loss of coastal resources, habitats and fish-breeding areas.

Advocate Meenaz Kakalia, appearing for the fisherfolk, said the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has chosen to completely sideline the communities recognised by the Department of Fisheries.

The petition said the Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner of Fisheries have addressed several letters to the BMC, directing it to ensure that it consult the fishing communities living in the area that will be affected by the project, but they have not been contacted.

The fishing communities want the BMC to modify the project design by considering the representations made by them. They also want the court to direct the authorities to apply for necessary clearance under the Environmental Impact Assessment notification, 2006, and to follow the due process, including conducting a public hearing.

Ms. Kakalia told the court that a representation was sent to the Commissioner of Fisheries and the Maharashtra coastal zone management about their grievances, but nothing happened thereafter.

Senior counsel Anil Sakhare, representing the BMC, said work on the coastal road started in November 2018 only after receiving all necessary permissions. Government pleader Poonam Kantharia, appearing for the police, said a meeting was called to inform the fishermen about the work on the project.

The court ordered the Commissioner of Fisheries to hear the grievances of the fishing communities, and directed the police and the BMC not to obstruct any fishing activity in the area, as claimed by the fisherfolk.

The Bench has directed the BMC to make a representation before the Commissioner of Fisheries, hold a meeting on March 4 and submit a report after a period of two weeks.

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