Vadhavan Port to affect 20,809 fishermen in 16 villages: Survey | Mumbai news

Mumbai: A previously undisclosed study by the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) to assess the impact of the proposed Vadhawan Port in the eco-sensitive Dahanu taluka of Palghar district on coastal fisheries has revealed that the project will affect the livelihood of at least 20,809 fishermen. , consisting of 5333 families and living in 16 fishing villages within a radius of 10 km from the port.

These include Agar, Narpad, Dahanu, Dhakti-Dahanu, Gungwada, Tarapur, Varor, Dandepada, Chinchani, Ghivali, Kambode, Tadiyale, Dhumket, Abram, Asangaon and Matgaon.

“Fishing is the main occupation of people in 16 coastal villages,” says Akhil Maharashtra Machimaar Kruti Samiti (AMMKS) president Devendra Tandel in a report obtained last week under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. , and shared with Hindustan Times.

The report specifically identifies five villages (located in the port area) that will be most affected by fishing activities, including Tadiyale, Gungwada, Dhakti-Dahanu, Vadhavan and Varore. Note that these are at least 8,296 affected fishermen.

In total, the port will make about 72 sq km of current fishing area inaccessible to fishermen once operations resume and during the construction phase. This equates to approximately 17,791 acres. “The area outside the harbor of the port (about 58 sq. km.) may be available for fishing subject to the regulation of the port authority and security authorities,” the report states.

These fishermen cover a wide range of fishing and allied occupations, from working on boats to mending nets, selling and distributing fish, supplying ice, transporting fish, drying, peeling and sorting fish, aquaculture and subsistence fishing (e.g. collecting crabs). and from the interlaminar regions). They use a variety of methods to target high-value fish ranging from pomfret to ravas, lobsters, prawns, Bombay ducks, mackerel, mullet, using seines, shore nets, nets, nets and crab traps. , croakers, snappers, seafish and anchovies. Total value of fish caught in Dahanu fishing zone in 2018-19 1,74,05,90,981.

Tandel and other experts stressed that this number (of 20,809 fishermen affected by the project) is likely a gross underestimate of the port’s impact on coastal livelihoods. The report — ‘Study of Proposed Vadhavan Port Impact on Coastal Fisheries’ — was commissioned by the project administrator, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority (JNPA), as part of the process of obtaining environmental clearance (EC) for the project. JNPA is yet to apply for an EC from the Union Environment Ministry.

Notably, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MOEFCC) recently “reclassified” the list of regulated activities permitted in the Dahanu taluka eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) to allow construction of ports and harbors. The ministry issued an office memorandum (OM) in this regard on May 26 this year and caused the anger of environmentalists.

“In 1998, the Dahanu Taluka Environment Protection Authority had expressly banned the construction of the project on environmental grounds. This decision has not been challenged by any party before any court and it is final. Any attempt to revive the project clearly undermines it,” said Debi Goenka, executive trustee, Conservation Action Trust, a city-based environmental non-profit.

“Regarding the impact of this report on coastal fisheries, it has not been submitted to us despite requests made under DTEPA or RTI. This raises the question why JNPA did not report this. This project intends to completely wipe out highly productive fishing grounds for at least the next 20 years. Fishermen in Uran who were displaced by JNPA’s Nhava Sheva port in the 1980s are still awaiting compensation and rehabilitation. Unless better thinking prevails, the same human rights violations will be repeated in Vadhavan,” Goenka added.

Notably, the report also notes that the project area serves as a nursery for several commercially viable fish. “The proposed harbor area and surrounding area do not function as breeding or spawning grounds…but may act as nursery grounds for several commercially important fish…Due to the productivity of the area and the presence of creeks, juvenile and adult fish are seasonally present in the nearshore waters. it is abundant”, – the report states that most of the observed fish were young fish in June and July, and the majority of adult fish were observed in November-May.

“This makes the area a golden belt for fishermen from Palghar, Thane and Mumbai, especially since fishing closer to Mumbai city has declined severely in recent decades. It is not only fishermen from 16 villages who go there to fish. The productivity of the Dahanu fishing zone is mainly for the fishing economy from Zai, the northernmost fishing village in Maharashtra, to Colaba in Mumbai,” said Tandel.

Bernard D’Mello, a fisherman from Uttan in Thane’s Mira-Bhayander taluka, added, “For the past few years, fishermen from the south like Madh and Gorai have visited the area. Fishermen from Uttan and Vasai have been frequenting this place for at least the last three decades. It is completely wrong to say that the development of the port will not affect us.”

Commenting on the findings of the CMFRI report, JNPA vice-chairman Unmesh Wagh admitted that the port would have “certain impact” on coastal fisheries in the region. “There will be some impact on fisheries, but it should be noted that not a single person will be displaced and virtually no compensation will be paid for their loss.” Vadhavan Port is a megaport of utmost strategic importance for the country. Instead, it will avoid the need to create many small ports, which will cause more damage to the environment and livelihoods in the long run.”

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