Coastal Road project has driven catch to deep sea, say fisherfolk

The ambitious Coastal Road project of the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has started affecting the marine ecology of Mumbai, according to the claims made by the local fishing community. The Haji Ali shoreline is home to aqua life of varied species, including corals and fishes.

The shoreline of the Haji Ali Bay, also known as the Lotus Jetty, is also home to the fisherfolk community. Nearly 70 fisherfolk families live by the shoreline and use the jetty as a docking hangar for their boats.

Fisherfolk claim that due to the ongoing construction work and land reclamation, fishes have started migrating from shallow water to the deep sea. "The sound of machines and construction have driven the fishes to the deep sea waters. Fishing has become difficult for us. Unless we sail towards the deep sea waters, we won't get a good catch," said a local fisherman.

Before the reclamation work began, the fisherfolk would get their catch near the shallow waters easily. "Most of our boats are smaller in size and are not heavily equipped to sail through the deep waters of the sea. If the reclamation continues in this manner, then the marine organisms will drive away further," stated another fisherman.

They have also alleged that local civic workers and engineers have been dumping waste in the sea due to which many fishes have died in the past few weeks. The civic body is also illegally filling the pools in the bay area. They fear this would lead to loss in their parking spaces.

"There are 70 small fishing boats that we park at the hangar daily. Now, BMC is filling the pools and we are unable to park our boats. If this continues for more than a month, then we will lose our parking space as well," stated AR Jamadar, spokesperson, Vanchit Macchimar Sangathana (an association of fisherfolk).

Earlier, in August, the fisherfolk had also written to the BMC, urging the municipal chief and state government to intervene in the matter. However, their issues are yet to be redressed. "On August 30, suddenly BMC officials arrived and ordered us to relocate our boats. We were not given any notice, which is why we had written to the civic body," stated Allaudinh Niyaz Khan, a local community leader.

Meanwhile, the civic body has denied such claims. While officials did not wish to comment on record, a senior official asserted that no illegal reclamation is happening. "We are only reclaiming 90 hectares of the sea as ordered by the Supreme Court," said the official.

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