The fishing community of Haji Ali have shot an angry letter to the civic body accusing the BMC of illegally reclaiming parts of the sea for the Coastal Road Project. The state government's ambitious coastal road project has affected the livelihood of the fishermen living along the Haji Ali bay. As many as 40 fishermen and their families live by the sea touching plot adjoining the road leading to the Haji Ali Dargah.
The Haji Ali bay shoreline also known as the Lotus Jetty is used as a docking hangar by the fisherfolks. Nearly, 70 small fishing boats are docked over there on a regular basis.
"The bay adjoining the shoreline is being reclaimed by the BMC. The small marine pools are already being filled and now they are trying to reclaim the bay area where we dock our boats,” said A R Jamadar, spokesperson Vanchit Macchimar Sangathana, an association of fisher folks.
Jamadar added, the construction works has caused severe loss to marine ecology. He also fears that the project is going to affect their life. “The fish have already escaped to the deep waters due to the noise. I doubt if there would be any aqua organism living in the aqua body in future,” Jamadar added.
Locals alleged BMC officials have threatened to cancel their licences. They also mentioned, the metal barricades set up by the civic body is causing them immense problems as it has blocked the hutments from the main road.
“On August 30, BMC officials ordered us to relocate our boats. We were not given any notice beforehand," said Allaudin Niyaz Khan, leader of the community.
Khan has written to the municipal chief and chief engineer of the coastal road, demanding immediate action. The fishermen have also held protests but in vain.
The civic body has denied the fishermen’s allegations. Shrikrishna Satpute, executive engineer of the Coastal Road Project, BMC stated the barricades are being set up to prevent trespassing. “The local contractors and some of the residents have complained that people often trespass through the open areas near the bay. To stop this menace we have set up the barricades,” Satpute explained. “The civic body is carrying out the project work adhering to the norms laid out by the government. We have received the complaints and matters would be redressed following enquiry,” Satpute added.