Thane: MSRDC agrees to deposit Rs 10 crore as interim compensation for fishermen to continue TCB III work

On Friday, the counsel for MSRDC informed the bench that it was ready to pay Rs 50,000 per fisherman as interim compensation.

Narsi BenwalUpdated: Friday, February 25, 2022, 11:08 PM IST
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The Bombay High Court on Friday ordered the MSRDC to deposit Rs 10 crore, an interim compensation for the 953 odd fishermen, with its registry if it wants to proceed with the construction of the Thane Creek Bridge (TCB) III. The HC had on Thursday ordered to stay the construction work of the six-lane project which would connect Mumbai with Navi Mumbai.

A bench of Justices Shahrukh Kathawalla and Milind Jadhav has ordered the MSRDC to deposit Rs 10 crore by Tuesday next week.

This comes a day after the bench passed orders staying the construction work as the authorities had been dragging their feet over paying just an interim compensation to the fishermen, whose occupation has been affected adversely by the project. The bench had, however, on a request by the MSRDC didn't give effect to its orders.

On Friday, the counsel for MSRDC informed the bench that it was ready to pay Rs 50,000 per fisherman as interim compensation.

"The development authority after noting the fact that the bench wasn't impressed with the submission said they would pay Rs 75,000. However, the judges slammed them for bargaining with the court," advocate Zaman Ali, appearing for the main petitioners, said.

The judges then asked the MSRDC to pay Rs 1 lakh per fisherman as an interim or ad hoc compensation and accordingly the authority conceded and undertook to deposit Rs 10 crore with the HC registry.

On Thursday, the bench was irked to note that despite an earlier order passed directing the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) was yet to come up with an interim report spelling out a just compensation for the fishermen, who have been ‘literally starving’ due to the project for the past year.

During the hearing on Thursday, the bench was informed by the CMFRI that it wasn’t authorised to suggest any compensation amount and that it can only assess the damage to the environment due to the project.

The bench was hearing a plea filed by Mariyayi Macchimaar Sahkari Sanstha Maryadit (MMSSM), seeking directives to the authorities to pay just compensation to the fishermen.

Notably, the bench had in August 2021, ordered the state government to come up with a state-wide policy to compensate communities whose customary rights of occupation and livelihood are affected by infrastructure projects.

The bench, while allowing the construction of the six-lane TCB III, connecting Mumbai and Navi Mumbai, has appointed a compensation committee that will study the social impact of the project on the fisherfolk of the area and accordingly fix the compensation to be granted to the community, as their customary right to fish for a living is being affected by the project.

The bench has issued detailed guidelines on how these compensation committees must be appointed and how these committees will study the social impact and arrive at a just amount to be given to people or communities whose occupation is being affected by any development project in the state.

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