Changes to India’s coastal law threatens Mumbai’s fishing community as it will hurt the livelihood of millions who are dependent on the sea for their survival and also result into environmental damage, says a fisherman from the Kolis community.
Objective of the change in the law:
The proposed changes to India’s Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules this year is being done for commercial purposes, to allow tourism in ecologically sensitive coastal areas and authorize the construction of the tallest statue in the world on an artificial island close to Mumbai.
Every year, at the end of the monsoon rains, a traditional pooja ceremony is performed by Mumbai’s fishing community to start their return to the sea for work, with offerings of flowers and coconut, and prayers sang for safety and bounty. This week, there was an added prayer , while launching their launched their freshly painted boats into the sea: the conservation of their homes and livelihoods as the new coastal law brings a bad news for their survival.
“By tradition, the coastal lands are ours. The state plans to take them away with this law,” said Rajhans Tapke, expressing his grief , who is the general secretary of the Koli Mahasangh association.
“Our land will be lost, this law will affect our access to the sea, our catch and work will be affected. How will we live and survive?” asked Tapke, who has his residence in Versova koliwada, or fishing village, which is home to his family and millions of others for generations.
The kolis are among Mumbai’s earliest and oldest inhabitants, with settlements dating back more than 400 years. The name of the city Mumbai is believed to be derived from Mumba devi, who is the patron deity of the kolis.
Yet most of the kolis do not have titles to their land or homes homes on which they spread their nets and dry their catch.