Fisherman from Mumbai and neighbouring areas have opposed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's (BMC) plan to relocate fish vendors from the historical Crawford Market here.
Nearly 1,200 fishermen and representatives of the Koli community from across the city and neighbouring areas like Dahanu, Vasai, Thane and Raigad on Wednesday staged a protest outside the BMC headquarters in south Mumbai.
Why was the fish market near Crawford demolished?
It has been a decade since the iconic Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj fish market in south Mumbai was declared an ‘extremely dangerous’ structure. Two years ago, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) issued notices to vendors to vacate the premises. The demolition of the structure, near Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Market or Crawford Market, finally started on Friday.
Why are they protesting?
The members of the Mumbai Fresh Fish dealers’ association have alleged they are being forced to shut business for a month, which is when they will be provided temporary sheds nearby. The association comprises 87 licenced fish wholesalers and 157 retailers, and has rejected all alternate shifting options offered by the civic body for lack of facilities. Operational since Independence, this fish market is the only retail and wholesale market in the city. It receives over 150 trucks of fish every day.
The Crawford Market acts like an agriculture produce marketing committee (APMC) of fish trade and shifting vendors to Airoli would adversely affect the business, Devendra Tandel, chief of Akhil Maharashtra Macchimar Kruti Samiti (AMMKS) said.
He also stated that the BMC had earlier demolished the fish market in Mumbai's Dadar area and suggested that fish vendors should instead be relocated nearby or somewhere in Dadar.
What is the BMC's stand?
The BMC offered five alternatives, including Airoli Naka market in Navi Mumbai, Dadar market and Malad market.
Defending their decision, civic officials said a lot of fish being sold in the market also comes via Navi Mumbai, and that creating space for vendors near the entrance to the city will be beneficial for them.
A civic official told the Free Press Journal, “We even offered other alternatives, which were rejected, too. It was a dead-end. However, now we are looking at setting up temporary sheds around the original location.”
What is the way forward?
Joint Municipal Commissioner Ramesh Pawar met the AMMKS delegation though they had sought a meeting with BMC Commissioner I S Chahal.
The members also met state minister of fisheries Aslam Shaikh who assured them his cooperation.
In a representation submitted to the BMC, AMMKS demanded temporary relocation of fish vendors to Carnac Bunder and Cotton Green areas in Mumbai, until a new shed is built for them at the Crawford Market.
(With inputs from agencies)