Maha: Fishermen to block JNPT ships on January 21

Maharashtra: Fishermen to block JNPT ships on January 21

The villagers, who have been confined to the transit camp at Hanuman Koliwada, have not received any compensation

Photo credit: Special Arrangement.

Taking the sea route, the JNPT-project affected people of erstwhile Sheva village in Uran have decided to launch a ‘channel bandh’ agitation pressing for their rights on 21 January 2021 blocking ship traffic.

"The villagers, who have been confined to the transit camp at Hanuman Koliwada about 40 years ago ever since their lands have been acquired for the country’s largest container port, have not received any compensation," said Suresh Damodar Koli, head of the Village Reforms Committee.

Environmental groups such as NatConnect Foundation and Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishthan which have been campaigning against the destruction of wetlands and mangroves by the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust have come out in support of the agitating fishing community.

Koli has recently written to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray highlighting the plight of the people who lost their source of survival in the land acquisition and the CMO cell at Konkan Bhavan asked JNPT Chairman to address the issue.

In all 256 families have been displaced from Sheva and now they have grown to about 600 families, Koli said and pointed out that none of the rehabilitation measures as per even the government norms have been implemented. As per the norms, JNPT is supposed to train the project-hit and give them jobs, however, according to them, it was not done.

“Fed up with this attitude, we are left with no alternative but to launch an agitation,” Koli said.

Hanuman Koliwada has over 125 fishing boats which will be pressed into action on January 21 to block the entry and exit of ships at JNPT, he said.

NatConnect Foundation Director BN Kumar said the lives and livelihoods of the people must be protected.  Any development that destroys these must be stopped,” he said.

In fact, NatConnect has recently asked the government to implement the Blue Economy and Mangrove-based aquaculture activities to help the people who lost their source of income with the land acquisition.

Nandakumar Pawar, head of Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishthan, said, "How can you have a development that destroys the local economy? JNPT has also violated the provisions of the environment clearance which clearly stipulate that the fishing activity should not be disturbed.”