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Home > Mumbai > Mumbai News > Article > Fisherfolk protest at Worli village against Coastal Road projects design

Fisherfolk protest at Worli village against Coastal Road project's design

Updated on: 08 November,2021 08:12 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Hemal Ashar | hemal@mid-day.com

Speaking for a group of protesters, Shrikant V from the Koli community said, “We are not against the Coastal Road per se, but we are against its design. It has pillars that are to be placed 60 m apart. Boats cannot navigate and may dash against the pillars"

Fisherfolk protest at Worli village against Coastal Road project's design

Fisherfolk fury: The Kolis claim to be marching to safeguard their livelihood, on Sunday. Pics/Sameer Markande

The fisherfolk of Mumbai, also known as Kolis, flexed their collective muscle to make it a Sunday morning with a difference. While the rest of the city may have enjoyed their fish and chips with beer on a lazy Sunday, the community, which brings that fish to your doorstep, undertook a long march inside Worli village located at one end of the Bandra Worli Sea Link (BWSL).


The Akhil Koli Samaj Va Sanskriti Samvardhan Sanghatana, Worli Koliwada Nakhava Matsya Vyavsay Sahakari Society and other groups called the rally for social justice and climate action.


Sea of red caps: The protest winds itself through the lanesSea of red caps: The protest winds itself through the lanes


Design

The rally wound its way through Worli Koliwada. The maze of lanes opening out to Worli sea face saw a huge group of men and women, holding banners and shouting slogans against the proposed design of Coastal Road. The rally took off at 11 am and ended at roughly 12 pm.

Speaking for a group of protesters, Shrikant V from the Koli community said, “We are not against the Coastal Road per se, but we are against its design. It has pillars that are to be placed 60 m apart. Boats cannot navigate and may dash against the pillars. We want the pillars to be at least 200 m apart. Piling work is underway at one side near the Sea Face. This will directly affect the entry of our boats in the water. It is important that we raise our voices now. We cannot do anything about the road, as the work is in progress, but we can at least protest against the design that will make life tougher for us.”

Misguided

The fishermen said the public perception about the community was faulty. “Many people think we live a relaxed life, but do they know that we venture out to sea at 4 am? If infrastructure is made this way, to eat into our livelihood, then what of our future?” they asked.

P Worlikar, in black mask (several fisherfolk wore black masks as a sign of protest), said, “Do these political leaders understand that like them, people need to eat, too?”

Fisherwoman S Worlikar said, “We are also hearing that the state government is going to give fisherfolk a ‘compensation package to not go fishing for a period of time while the work is in progress’. There’s nothing in writing though. Everything, from the road design to the compensation package, if any, must be transparent. We want our livelihood, and we want fishing to survive in the future as well. Though a package hasn’t been offered yet, we are going to reject it as we are sure it won’t be tenable.”

Politics

The village walls were plastered with posters about this protest and how it was important to speak up against the Coastal Road design. It was against the Maharashtra government. Just across, walls had posters of the state government in support of the community, and panning the Centre over the prices of diesel and petrol, which fuels fishing boats. Modi-bashing posters asked, ‘is this acche din?’

Unity

As the rally wore on, slogans rent the air and several groups spoke out about the unity in the community. “It is not just the fishermen from Worli village who come here to net their catch, fishermen from across the city come here,” they said.

The Worli Watch Group, comprising village locals who concentrate on civic issues in the region, said, “The pillars must be built at this distance [200 m apart]. The fishing community has suffered enough.”

Sharad Koli, a resident, signed off, “If demands are not met, every Koliwada representative and their locals will congregate on the roads in a show of strength.”

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