Mumbai: 150-year-old Chira Bazaar market to finally be razed

Updated: Dec 11, 2018, 10:16 IST | Jane Borges

About 90 fisherwomen will stage a protest inside the market today to oppose the move to demolish the 150-year-old Chira Bazaar market

Mumbai: 150-year-old Chira Bazaar market to finally be razed
The Chira Bazaar Market is the only source of livelihood for most of the members of the Fishsellers’ Association. Pic/Bipin Kokate

With all the uncertainty around when the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) will demolish the 150-year-old Chira Bazaar market, the fate of more than 100 fisherwomen, vegetable vendors and meat shop-owners continues to hang in the balance.

However, members of the Chira Bazaar Maasli Vikreta Mandal (Chira Bazaar Fishsellers' Association) told mid-day that in all probability, the property will be demolished on Monday, almost three years after the MMRCL issued notice to them to vacate the premises by December 6, 2018, to make way for the Metro 3 construction work.

The 90-odd fisherwomen, most of whom belong to the Koli community, have decided to stage a protest inside the market today, to oppose the move. While the MMRCL has put up a board outside the market declaring the dilapidated structure their property, members of the fishsellers' association struggled through Sunday to sell off their stock in view of their uncertain future.

'Alternative unacceptable'
The Chira Bazaar fish market has been the mainstay of people from as far as Dhobi Talao and Girgaum for over a century. "The MMRCL offered to provide us an alternative space at Bengali School in Charni Road, but it can only accommodate 45 fisherwomen. Where will the rest of us go? Also, the property is dilapidated," said Preeti Ganesh Dawane, who has been selling fish at the market since the age of 12. "How can they expect our regular customers to travel all the way to Charni Road to buy fish?" added Dawane, who is the breadwinner of her family, which comprises her physically challenged husband and three school-going children.

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Not enough compensation
Another fisherwoman Ratna Nitisha Nitin Meher, who hails from Palghar, and whose family has been working at the market since the early 1900s, said after the association refused to be moved to Charni Road, the MMRCL offered to pay a compensation of Rs 7 lakh per month till the Metro 3 project, connecting Colaba to SEEPZ, is completed.

"But considering we are nearly 100 of us, that would amount to Rs 7,000 per person. At present we make atleast Rs 30,000 a month, and for most of us, who travel from as far as Uran and Mandvi, this is our only source of income," said Meher. After repeated attempts to contact Ashwini Bhide, managing director of MMRCL, she said she did not wish to comment on the issue.

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