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3,000 fishing boats to join JNPT Channel Bandh on Feb 26

Sheva village people displaced for 35 years threaten to block ship movements

The 12.5% compensation scheme offered by JNPT does not cover the Koli community as they do not enjoy any rights under the 7/12 extract of the revenue records. “We fish in open waters and we do not have any such rights, unlike the farmers,” Koli said.

MUMBAI: As many as 3,000 fishing boats from five coastal districts of Maharashtra will drop their anchors off JNPT on February 26 blocking all ship movements to the country’s largest container port in support of the families displaced by acquisition of Sheva village 35 years ago, the agitation leaders announced.

The fishing community earlier planned an indefinite JNPT Channel Bandh agitation from Thursday, but they put it off by a month at the request of the senior police officials, said Suresh Damodar Koli, head of  Hanjuman Koliwada Village Reforms Committee. In all 256 families, displaced from Sheva, have been confined to a transit camp at Hanuman Koliwada since April 1986 and their numbers have grown to about 600 families now. Two villages – Nhava and Sheva were acquired originally for the creation of Nhava Sheva Port Trust whuch has been later rechristened as JNPT (Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust)

“The project proponents are not only playing with the environment by destroying wetlands and mangroves, but also with the lives and livelihoods of the original settlers of the area,” B N Kumar, director of NatConnect Foundation said. The NGO has written Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to extend the Blue Economy and the Mangrove-based aqua culture activities as per the government norms to help the people who lost their source of income with the land acquisition and the projects. 

The Hanuman Koliwada transit camp families were to be resettled on a full developed land of 17 hectares as per decisions taken at meetings with then Shipping and Ports Minister Nitin Gadkari and the Chief Minister. JNPT had even committed to Lok Ayukta and the PWD even prepared a Rs 6.2 crore plan for the basic amenities. As late as on November 24 last Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar ordered JNPT to implement the resettlement plan.

“Our only demand to implement the promises made to resettle us as per government norms and nothing beyond that,” Koli said announcing the indefinite strike.

The MoU signed between JNPT and CIDCO on Wednesday does not cover the Sheva affected people as the agreement deals with the lands acquired from farmers and the compensation package of allotting 12.5% of the developed land to them, Koli explained. The 12.5% scheme does not cover the Koli community as they do not enjoy any rights under the 7/12 extract of the revenue records. “We fish in open waters and we do not have any such rights, unlike the farmers,” Koli said.

JNPT Chairman might show sympathy for all the project affected but as far as the old Sheva village people are concerned even the written orders are not being implemented, said Nandakumar Pawar, head of Shri Ekvira Aai Pratishtan.

The Village Development Committee has recently written to the Chief Minister 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. 

Koli has also written to Shipping and Ports Minister Mansukh L Mandaviya drawing his attention to the fact how JNPT has been evading implementation of the resettlement,

The Maharashtra Machhimar Kruti Samiti, Gharapuri Island Development Committee, Aai Gavdevi Mandal of Gavhan Koliwada have extended their support to the agitation for the rightful demands of Hanuman Koliwada community.

Fishing boats from Mumbai, Mumbai Suburban, Thane, Raigad and Sindhdurg will join the agitation, Koli said.

Pawar said the” arrogant behaviour of JNPT management is reprehensible”. He asked: How can you have 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, Pawar argued and called for stern action against the port management. 

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