Panju Island to become tourism destination

Panju Island to become tourism destination

The village - with a population of 1,500 - is spread over 600 acres and has huge patches of salt pans and fishing boats dotting the elliptical coast

The only way to reach the village is to take a ferry - though locals often use the railway bridge and go to the island. Predominantly inhabited by the agriculture community, this place has a rich history. Credit: Special Arrangement

Panju Island, a tiny island off the Arabian Sea, which has nearly zero pollution and is visited by a host of native and migratory birds have one of the best statistics with regard to sex ratio, cent per cent literacy and a unique piece of history, is being transformed into a tourism destination.

The village - with a population of 1,500 - is spread over 600 acres and has huge patches of salt pans and fishing boats dotting the elliptical coast. Villagers own around 100 plus boats – mainly used for sand dredging or fishing.

Though in the outskirts of Mumbai - tap water came here in 1983, power in 1989. It has its own crematorium, primary health centre and a primary and secondary school.

When one travels in a Western Railway train and passes over the bridge on the creek between Bhayander and Naigaon stations - while on the way from Mumbai to Palghar - one can see the picturesque island below. The bridge, in fact, connects Salsette Island to Vasai. Panju Island is among the 26 islands in India—the only one in Maharashtra—that will be turned into tourist hotspots. The rest islands are in Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep Islands.

The public policy think tank, NITI Aayog has already started working on it. “We are sure that the Panju Island would be transformed and it would bring in opportunities for youths,” said Kiran Bhoir, the founder-director of KMC Holidays and Offshore Pvt Ltd, who hails from this island.

The only way to reach the village is to take a ferry - though locals often use the railway bridge and go to the island. Predominantly inhabited by the agriculture community, this place has a rich history. A majority of people here have the surname Bhoir and a few of them are Patils as well.

Legendary Maratha commander Chimaji Appa, the son of Balaji Vishwanath Bhat, the first Peshwa, and younger brother of Bajirao Peshwa, the second Peshwa, used to carry out monetary transactions from this island.

He had wrested control of the Vasai fort from the Portuguese rulers. From the southern shores of this island, one can see the ramparts of the Vasai fort. During the Independence movement - the place then had a population of 300 - had given 21 freedom fighters - and a monument in their memory could be seen when one steps into the jetty from the Naigaon side.

Almost every home has an idol or photo of Lord Hanuman, the presiding deity of the village and the Hanuman Jayanti and Ganesh Chaturthi are the biggest festivals here, which even draws crowds from the mainland. “There is a lot of potential in the land and the people and this needs to be explored,” said Bhoir, who had been working with the state government and the state tourism development corporation for several years.

 

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