Tanushree Venkatraman, Hindustan Times, July 13 2017
Even as the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) readies its plan to build a 300-acre park in Cuffe Parade much like New York’s Central Park, it still faces stiff opposition from the city’s fishermen.
The Akhil Maharashtra Machhimar Kriti Samiti has objected to the plans stating it would affect the livelihood of 20,000 fishermen. The BMC has proposed a 300-acre park to be built through reclamation in Cuffe Parade in the Development Plan (DP) 2034. The park would include a garden, playground and play area for children.
Damodar Tandel, president of the association, said the fishermen use the area to park around 400 boats. The native Koli community is one of the early inhabitants of the city. The Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA) has also marked plots 139 to 142 in the area as machimaar nagar and 143-145 as parking space for boats in its regional plan, Tandel said.
The fisherfolk have been opposing the state government’s proposal to erect Maratha warrior king Shivaji’s statue in the Arabian Sea and the BMC’s 29-km coastal road plan fearing the affect they will have on their livelihood.
“The BMC says it wants to increase green cover in the city by creating a theme park. Their plan is to destroy the sea by reclaiming to increase green cover? We have been carrying out fishing activities in this area for the past 40 years. This park will destroy our livelihoods,” Tandel said.
The BMC is going to write to the MMRDA to jointly approach the Ministry of Environment for a green nod. The Backbay reclamation is special planning authority (SPA) zone that comes under the MMRDA. BMC officials also said they will make use of the muck generated out of the Metro-III project.
Activists have also opposed the ambitious reclamation plan stating the need for more recreational spaces in the suburbs. The city’s past experiences with reclamation have changed sea levels and tidal currents and caused erosion of beaches.