FISHERFOLK TO GO TO GREEN TRIBUNAL OVER WADHWAN PORT
MUMBAI: Fishermen from Wadhwan and 12 other villages will submit a petition to the National Green Tribunal (NGT), Pune, and the Dahanu Taluka Environment Protection Authority to protest against the proposed Rs30,000 crore Wadhwan port, which is meant to decongest the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) in Uran.
This decision was taken in their meeting convened on Saturday evening. The villagers have decided to petition against the construction of the port as they as they feel that the livelihood of the fishing community would be at stake.
According to sources, there would probably be a ban on fishing in a 25-km radius in the periphery of the port due to the movement of large container ships resulting in a collapse of the fishing business.
The community have also formed a Wadhwan Bunder Virodhi Sangharsh Samiti (WBVSS) to fight this cause in a systematic manner.
Narayan Patil, one of the founders of the WBVSS said that Dahanu is one of the eight Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZ) in India. It was created on the orders of the Supreme Court after the DTEPA was formed.
Wadhwan, and its nearby villages form the `Golden Belt’ for fishing where 2,500 boats operate daily. Over 25,000 families are dependent on the income generated from the business.
As per the plans of the project, the construction of the port would involve reclamation of 5,000 acres (2,000 hectares) of land.
“Nearly 1.90 crore tonne of stones would be used to reclaim the Arabian Sea and thus, there are also chances of sea water flooding into our homes. Despite being shelved once in 1998, it has been taken up again,” Patil said.
The fisherfolk have formed the Wadhwan Bunder Virodhi Sangharsh Samiti to protest against the construction, which they said would affect their livelihood.
“Construction of the same port had been cancelled in 1997-98 after a similar protest by locals, but the Centre has now gone ahead with the construction,” said Narayan Patil, founder of the group.
Wadhwan, Waror, Gungwada, Wada-Pokhran and other villages surrounding the port is often called the “golden belt” for fishing and around 2,500 boats fish daily to support close to 25,000 families. Dahanu is one of the eight eco-sensitive zones (ECZ) in the country according to Supreme Court orders.
“The authorities have gone ahead with the construction despite the Supreme Court’s ban on such areas,” said Patil.
According to reports, around 5,000 acres of land will be reclaimed and nearly 1.90 crore tonnes of stones will be used on the Arabian Sea. So there is a chance of our homes getting flooded.
Poornima Meher, member of the Maharashtra Machimmar Kriti Samiti, a forum of fish cooperative societies in the state that is also opposing the construction, said,” Several mangrove trees will be uprooted, a violation of the environment rules.”
“There will be ban on fishing around 25-km radius of it because of the movement of large ships. Our livelihood will collapse as there is already an existing 3-km ban on fishing near the oilfields of the ONGC at Vasai,” said Meher.
Anil Diggikar, chairman, JNPT, had said, “We will make sure that there is no injustice. We will try to give the fisherfolk employment opportunities if land is acquired from them.”