The oldest inhabitants of Mumbai, the Kolis – local fishing community have demanded natural justice and sought "fair” demarcation of their villages. Leaders from the Koli community claim that two years after their Koliwada land was surveyed, the final plan has excluded nearly 40 per cent of areas of Koliwadas.
The BMC has invited suggestions and objections for newly demarcated boundaries of 13 koliwadas in Mumbai. On October 1, the BMC website published plans for 13 koliwadas with maps, giving a month’s time for citizens to submit suggestions and objections in writing. The citizens views would be later forwarded to the Revenue Department for recitations based on which the final plan will be framed.
The 13 koliwadas are Charkop, Chimbai, Gorai, Juhu, Khardanda, Madh, Versova, Borivali, Mahul, Malvani, Turbhey, Bhatti and Manori. The fishermen’s community has pointed out that the authorities have failed to mark open space for future extension of these koliwadas. Expressing their disappointment, community leaders plan to file their objections on the BMC’s draft plan.
“Representatives of all Koliwadas cooperated with the surveyors, which included members of the Fisheries department, collectors office and UDRI. However, two years after the survey, we see that nearly 40% areas under Koliwada have not been included in the plan. We are yet to ascertain the reason for this. We will register our objection,” said Rajhans Tapke, general secretary of Koli Mahasangh.
Koliwadas are recognised as areas where native inhabitants of Mumbai are traditionally located. “While the final Development Plan (2014-34) of the city was approved in 2018, koliwada, gaothan and adivasi pada areas were not included in it as there were no land records to identify the exact area and extent of these areas. To delineate the boundaries and their extent, the revenue department had set up a committee,” Tapke added.
Tapke said that the government rules say that while preparing plans for gaothans and Koliwadas they should leave space for future extensions. “However, this has not been done in Mumbai. Kolis are original inhabitants of the city and they are living here since ages, hence we deserve natural justice, which we have been denied from time to time,” he rued.
Earlier, the state government had marked many koliwadas as slums and their redevelopment was planned under SRA schemes. Worli Koliwada and Sion Koliwada, for instance, was marked as a slum but later the decision was reverted after huge protests. Tapke added, “Government has already handed over fishermen’s land for development to various agencies, at least now they should keep some space for our extension and future growth.”