On Thursday, Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray held a virtual meeting with the fishermen community, two months since protesting fishermen stopped the construction of the Coastal Road interchange at Worli. The fishermen called the meeting “misleading” and said the issue of their boats’ navigation remained unresolved. The fishermen also said that the development work on the interchange should not commence till the minister visits the site to understand the issue. Fisherfolk had prevented the construction of an interchange since the month of October last year, that will connect the Coastal Road to the existing Bandra-Worli Sea Link, according to an IE report.
As per the plan, between two pillars of the interchange, the BMC is providing a span of 60 metres while the fishermen demand a navigational span of 200 metres for safe passage of their boats. According to one of the participants in the meeting, the civic body reiterated its suggestion of appointing an independent, qualified and recognised organisation by the fishermen to review their demands. However, a joint inspection of the disputed area was demanded by the fisherfolk. With machinery lying at the site unused for more than two months, earlier, BMC had stated that the protest caused loss running in crores per day. The civic body, in Thursday’s meeting, suggested proceeding with the development other than that of the interchange.
According to Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal, the Worli fisherfolk have permitted them to start work of pillar 1 to pillar 5. However, fishermen have said until their demands are met, they will not allow BMC contractors to start any construction in the sea at the site. Two fishing societies from Worli- Worli Koliwada Sarvoday Sahakari Society and Worli Koliwada Nakhwa Matsya Vyavsay Sahakari Society who participated in the online meeting, expressed discontent and said the meeting’s purpose was not to address their concerns. On the contrary, it appeared that the online meeting was intended towards justifying the stand of BMC to restrict the navigation span to 60 metres, which endangers their lives, a member was quoted saying in the report.