Mumbai: Observing that citizens cannot be “inconvenienced” during their visit to city’s beaches, the Bombay High Court recently said no encroachments can be allowed on the beach fronts. The HC accordingly directed demolition of nearly five unauthorised structures, constructed by purported fishermen at Girgaum Chowpatty.
A division bench of Justices Satyaranjan Dharmadhikari and Justice Bharati Dangre said, “The citizens visiting the beach and beach fronts cannot be inconvenienced. If there are encroachments and no open areas (on beachs), then, such beach fronts are damaged immensely. Such a damage is irreversible.”
The bench made the observations while disposing five petitions filed by fishermen challenging the demolition notice served upon them by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). The civic body asked the fishermen to pull down their unauthorised structures, so that the beach fronts are not damaged. The fishermen on the other hand claimed to have carrying out fishing here at Girgaon Chowpatty for decades altogether. They claimed that they had got the land in question on lease basis even before independence i.e. in 1943.
Though they agreed to get themselves shifted, but however sought an “alternative” site for their relocation, so that they could carry out their work without any hindrance. They even apprised the bench of the fact that the BMC has proposed to relocate them at Mahim shores and Sasoon dock. “We are unable to carry out fishing on account of the threats from locals and also because of the fact that there are already other fishermen at Mahim and Sasoon dock. If removed from Girgaon Chowpatty, we will face several hardships and will become homeless,” the fishermen argued.
Having considered the arguments from all sides, the bench also took into account the continuous efforts of citizens who have taken up the task of cleaning beaches. “There are some public spirited individuals who are trying to save the beach and assisting for its beautification. The stake of the general public also cannot be ignored,” Justice Dharmadhikari observed. Accordingly, the judges ordered the fishermen to pull down their unauthorised structures failing which the BMC has been asked to do the needful.